Quantcast
Popular

5 Chilling Ways Trump Has Declared War on the EPA

By Jeremy Symons

While running for president, Donald Trump threatened to virtually eliminate the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), leaving only "little tidbits."

Scott Pruitt, Trump's EPA administrator, has been tasked with the job of tearing down the agency from within. This is the man who sued the EPA 14 times—with strong financial backing from companies seeking to weaken clean air and clean water standards—when serving as Oklahoma's Attorney General.


The president has used deception to reassure the general public that critical environmental laws will continue to protect public health and he is now taking our country in a dangerous direction.

Here are five ways he and Pruitt will go about weakening the agency responsible for keeping our air clean, drinking water safe and toxic chemicals from harming our families:

1. Gut the EPA's Budget

Deep budget cuts at the EPA are being proposed under the guise of fixing budget issues.

In reality, the agency accounts for a mere two-tenths of one percent of federal spending. Any claim that major budget issues can be dealt with on the back of such a small sliver of the budget is false.

Instead, the proposed budget cuts are a clear signal to a narrow group of special interests and supporters who share Trump's disdain for the EPA because environmental regulations don't serve their agenda.

2. Relax Enforcement Against Illegal Pollution

Leaked budget documents show that Trump has already directed the EPA to curtail pollution-monitoring and get states "to assume more active enforcement roles." But this isn't about states' rights; it's merely a convenient cover for gutting federal enforcement responsibility without any assurance that states will pick up the slack.

In fact, Pruitt took Oklahoma in the opposite direction as attorney general by shutting down the state's environmental enforcement unit.

Meanwhile, delegating enforcement to states puts everyone at the mercy of neighboring states' enforcement. Almost every state has communities that are downwind or downstream from polluters across state boundaries.

3. Roll Back Pollution Standards

"The future ain't what it used to be at the EPA," Pruitt explained in a fiery speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington shortly after his contentious and narrow confirmation by the Senate. He went on to pledge he would "roll back the regulatory state."

President Trump has already issued an executive order seeking to weaken Clean Water Act protections for American rivers and streams. With Pruitt now at his side, he is expected to next take aim at rolling back standards that reduce toxic emissions from cars and power plants.

Trump says he is slashing federal clean air and water standards to ease what he calls "job-crushing regulations." Of course, increasing pollution does not grow the economy.

4. Use Misinformation to Justify Political Agenda

During his confirmation hearing, Pruitt ran away from his anti-environmental record and assured senators that he was "concerned" about pollution contributing to climate change, that mercury "should be regulated" and that ground-level ozone is "a dangerous pollutant."

Once he had been confirmed as EPA administrator, his tone changed back to his roots. Pruitt is already a ready partner to Trump when it comes to spreading misinformation and denying climate change.

Political interference in science will come in many forms, but the most dangerous may be an effort to permanently meddle with the EPA's scientific capacity under the guise of "reforming" the scientific process. Such meddling is a top Trump transition goal, according to Myron Ebell, the head of Trump's EPA transition team.

Ebell makes no bones about it: The objective, he's said, is to permanently cripple the agency's capacity to bounce back under future presidents.

5. Surrender to Allow "Sue and Pollute" Lawsuits

We expect Pruitt and U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions to take up a new practice of surrendering to "sue and pollute" lawsuits in court. That would abandon the legal defense of EPA rules against suits brought by some polluters who would rather fight in court than invest in cleaner technology.

Pruitt may even take the unprecedented step to refuse to recuse himself from overseeing decisions about lawsuits that he himself brought against the EPA as Oklahoma's attorney general—conveniently switching sides from plaintiff to defendant.

The question now is how Pruitt and Trump will contend with growing opposition as they walk the tightrope between broad public support for the EPA's mission while serving the narrow interests of those who want to permanently weaken the agency.

If we remain vigilant and demand accountability from our elected officials, we can make every step they take along that tightrope more strenuous than the last.

Show Comments ()

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Sponsored
Popular
Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Nick Lyon, seen here speaking to the press about the Flint water crisis in 2016, will be the highest ranking official to stand trial over the public health disaster. Brett Carlsen / Getty Images

Judge Orders Michigan Health Director to Face Trial Over Flint Water Crisis Deaths

Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Nick Lyon will be the highest ranking official to go to trial so far as a result of an investigation into the Flint water crisis, The Associated Press reported Monday.

Judge David Goggins ruled Monday there was probable cause for Lyon to stand trial for involuntary manslaughter in the deaths of Robert Skidmore and John Snyder that prosecutors say were due to a Legionnaires' disease outbreak that Lyon was aware of a year before he alerted Michigan's governor, Michigan Live reported. Lyons is also charged with misconduct in office.

Keep reading... Show less
Politics
Coal-fired power plant near Becker, Minnesota. Tony Webster / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Trump's 'Dirty Power Plan' Could Cost More Than 1,000 Lives a Year

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) unveiled on Tuesday its long-anticipated replacement of the Obama-era Clean Power Plan. The new coal pollution rules will increase planet-warming carbon pollution and could cost more than a thousand American lives each year, according to the EPA's own estimates.

EPA Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler released the "Affordable Clean Energy Rule" today under President Trump's directive. The new plan encourages efficiency improvements at existing coal plants to ensure they operate longer and allows states to weaken, or even eliminate, coal emissions standards. That's a clear difference from former President Obama's plan, which was aimed at phasing out coal and transitioning to cleaner power sources to avoid dangerous climate change.

Keep reading... Show less
Health
Two workers in protective gear scrape asbestos tile and mastic from a facility at Naval Base Point Loma in California. NAVFAC / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Why Asbestos Is Still a Major Public Health Threat in the U.S.

Reports surfaced this month that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had proposed a significant new use rule (SNUR) for asbestos in June, requiring anyone who wanted to start or resume importing or manufacturing the carcinogenic mineral to first receive EPA approval.

Keep reading... Show less
Animals
Rklfoto / Getty Images

Bipartisan Group of Lawmakers Wants to End EPA’s Cruel Animal Testing

By Justin Goodman and Nathan Herschler

A bipartisan group of lawmakers in Congress recently pressed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on its "questionable" and "dubious" animal tests. The lawmakers' demand for information on "horrific and inhumane" animal testing at the EPA comes on the heels of a recent Johns Hopkins University study that found that high-tech computer models are more effective than animal tests.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Climate
Wikimedia Commons

Strongest, Oldest Arctic Sea Ice Breaks Up for First Time on Record

The Arctic is warming at a rate twice as fast as the rest of the globe, and now the region's thickest and oldest sea ice—also known as "the last ice area"—is breaking up for the first time on record, the Guardian reported Tuesday.

The breakage has opened up waters north of Greenland that are normally frozen-solid even in the peak of summer.

Keep reading... Show less
Energy
Climate Justice Edmonton

These Giant Portraits Will Stand in the Path of Trans Mountain Pipeline

By Andrea Germanos

To put forth a "hopeful vision for the future" that includes bold climate action, a new installation project is to be erected along the controversial Trans Mountain pipeline expansion route to harnesses art's ability to be a force for social change and highlight the fossil fuel project's increased threats to indigenous rights and a safe climate.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Popular
A worker inspects recycled plastic in a plastics factory. Getty Images

The Plastic Waste Crisis Is an Opportunity to Get Serious About Recycling

By Kate O'Neill

A global plastic waste crisis is building, with major implications for health and the environment. Under its so-called "National Sword" policy, China has sharply reduced imports of foreign scrap materials. As a result, piles of plastic waste are building up in ports and recycling facilities across the U.S.

Keep reading... Show less
Adventure
Aaron Teasdale

The One Thing Better Than Summer Skiing

By Aaron Teasdale

"There's snow up here, I promise," I assure my son Jonah, as we grunt up a south-facing mountainside in Glacier National Park in July. A mountain goat cocks its head as if to say, "What kind of crazy people hike up bare mountains in ski boots?" He's not the only one to wonder what in the name of Bode Miller we're doing up here with ski gear.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!