Earth Day: the EPA is all but dead

The fight to save the EPA – “With environmental regulations under attack and EPA budgets being slashed, can the destruction of the agency be prevented?” As a practical matter, no.

Last year, Fortune did a story about the US before EPA. The Environmental Protection Agency was created under Republican President Richard Nixon in December 1970, months after the first Earth Day.

Under this regime, however, data has been buried, altered, silenced. “Across agency websites [not just EPA’s], documents have disappeared, web pages have vanished and language has shifted in ways that appear to reflect the policies of the new administration.” I am told that staff have been directed to change the titles of some reports so nobody could find them or ask for the correct document, an underhanded ploy to render them un-FOIA-able.

The agency is poised to scrap fuel economy targets that are key to curbing global warming. “The EPA is [stupidly] expected to announce… that it will scrap mileage targets the Obama administration drafted in tandem with California that aim to boost average fuel economy for passenger cars and SUVs… undermining one of the world’s most aggressive programs to confront climate change.”

Most sinister, and somewhat complicated to explain, EPA administrator Scott Pruitt is using ‘weaponized transparency’ to destroy public health and block the use of science.

“How could ‘more transparency’ actually mean less information and worse decisions? Many of the studies that the EPA and other agencies [conduct] that address the health and safety of Americans depend on [and] require access to health records. Those health records can be used only if the information is kept carefully anonymous and if some parts of the information are shielded from public scrutiny. Many of these studies include agreements that portions of the data will not be released to the public. Otherwise, these studies risk revealing private information about the health and activities of individuals.

“Under the new proposed guidelines, many of these studies would be either forced to violate privacy rules, or their data could not be used. By filtering this information out, Pruitt hopes to make EPA decisions without being confronted with information that would counter his desire to allow companies to release unlimited toxins.”

So why are Scott Pruitt and other Cabinet-level heads creating a work environment in which employees at agencies say they have seen their core missions changed or even demolished overnight? Some “described living in constant fear that… budget proposals would end in them being laid off en masse. And given the constantly mercurial state of … policies changing at the drop of a hat, leadership hired and fired on a whim, political appointees undermining existing management, and an increasing sense that their overseers are deeply partisan and ignorant of the issues—their workplace environment has reportedly grown worse than toxic.”

It’s because Scott Pruitt says he’s doing God’s work by ignoring climate change and repealing Clean Power Act. Or just maybe it’s that Pruitt has been living in an energy lobbyist’s condo since he moved to D.C. The current challenges to his tenure brings me little comfort, considering the damage already done.

In any case, the United States pulling out of the Paris Accord while the Arctic is melting down and the Antarctic food chain is breaking seems counter-intuitive. Stop blaming ‘both sides’ for America’s climate failures.

We’re going to have to rely on other countries, the states, business, non-governmental organizations, and ourselves to carry on the fight because the current EPA appears to be fighting for environmental perfidy.

Note: similar topic, more optimism in a couple days.

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Death knell for the Environment Protection Agency?

The Environmental Protection Agency was created 47 years ago this coming December. Why was that? How Did the U.S. Look Before the EPA?

“Time [magazine]’s story on the burning Cuyahoga River [near Cleveland] sparked outrage among Americans, and brought national attention to the country’s need to clean up its waterways and protect the environment. It eventually helped lead to changes like the Clean Water Act…

“The Cuyahoga article was even instrumental in President Richard Nixon forming the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 1970. Its mission then — and now — is to ‘protect human health by safeguarding the air we breathe, water we drink and land on which we live.'”

The regime announced its morally obscene budget proposal in March, and it’s even worse than most observers expected. For instance, EPA is looking at a 31% cut in the agency’s budget, eliminating 3,200 staff positions and zeroing out funding to enforce the Clean Power Plan. It is an all-out assault on our planet.

The proposal now needs to be negotiated in both the House and Senate — and with EPA antagonist Scott Pruitt leading the agency, the budget director proclaiming that fighting climate change is “a waste of your money” and the House already taking steps to abolish the agency entirely — it is pretty much a worst case scenario.

From the very beginning of this regime, scientists have been muzzled and research blocked. After four and a half decades of progress on the environment, we’re aiming for a regression. And of course, the added pollution that will be allowed won’t stop at our national borders.

The United States was a signatory to the Paris Agreement on Climate Change agreed to in 2016. It appears, though, that this administration has chosen to go in another direction.

O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
This was disappearing, but had started coming back. On this Earth Day, there is most unfortunately very little to celebrate, certainly not in the United States.