The Environmental Protection Agency, EPA, is intended to do exactly what you might expect from the name … protect the environment. In the Trumpian world of alternative language, however, it is apparently understood a bit differently: the EPA is to protect the fossil fuel industry and assist them in destroying the environment.
If there was a worse possible choice for Director of the EPA, I do not know who it could have been. I won’t rehash all his disqualifications, but merely remind you that as Attorney General of Oklahoma from 2011 – 2017, Pruitt sued the EPA, the very agency he now runs, no less than 13 times on behalf of the fossil fuel industry, and labeled himself as “leading advocate against the EPA’s activist agenda.” Indeed, in 2015, he called for the elimination of the agency! Rather like hiring the man who threatened to shoot my horse, to watch over my horse, don’t you think? And it goes without saying that Pruitt rejects the scientific consensus that human activities are a primary contributor to climate change and that carbon dioxide is the primary contributor.
Since taking the agency reins in February 2017, he has:
- Lied to Congress about a private email account he uses to communicate with representatives of the fossil fuel industry
- Cut the EPA budget by more than 30%
- Cut staffing by more than 700 employees, some in key positions that remain unfilled.
- Imposed a cloak of secrecy where employees are forbidden to take notes at meetings, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests are blatantly denied, and implemented ‘gag rules’, forbidding employees to speak of environmental issues.
- Shifted numerous staff members to his own private security detail, costing taxpayers $830,000 per year.
- Eliminated regulations that:
- Verified emissions from a company’s industrial expansion are what the company says they are. (Now the EPA will simply take estimates at face value. But all these big corporations are so honest that this should work out well, don’t you think?)
- Blocked a potentially disastrous mining operation in Alaska’s Bristol Bay. (The mine will now go forward, though a single leak could devastate the world’s largest sockeye salmon population.)
- Required the tracking of methane emissions (this decision was overturned by the Supreme Court).
- Required data collection of emissions from oil and gas companies.
- Monitored fracking.
- Required companies to disclose which hazardous chemicals they’re storing.
- Protected tributaries of sensitive bodies of water (even though the EPA’s analysis showed it would cost less to prevent the pollution than to allow it).
- Set tighter emissions standards for trucks.
- Banned the toxic pesticide chlorpyrifos.
- Repealed the Clean Power Plan, the Obama-era rules that imposed strict limits on greenhouse gas emissions.
- Propagated false or misleading information regarding the costs of renewable energy, need for removal of regulations on fossil fuel companies, and climate change.
- Removed the term ‘climate change’ from the agency’s website, and offices that were working on climate change have been closed, staff re-assigned.
And just last week, when nobody much was watching because of the holidays …
- The EPA says a controversial herbicide is not harmful to humans. For the past few years, a debate has been raging over Monsanto’s use of glyphosate, the main ingredient in Round-Up, the top-selling weed killer sprayed on millions of acres of crops across the globe every year. The EPA came down clearly on Monsanto’s side, saying that glyphosate likely does not cause cancer. This contradicts a 2015 report by the World Health Organization (WHO). Score another for corporate profits over global health and well-being.
The U.S. produces the second largest amount of carbon emissions, second only to China, and we have the largest amount of carbon emissions per capita in the world. And yet, we are the only nation on the planet that is not part of the Paris Accord, the agreement within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) dealing with greenhouse gas emissions mitigation and adaptation.
What arrogance on the part of the U.S. … we are in the process of destroying, not only our own environment, but that of the entire planet, for the effects of pollution are not contained to the country from which the pollutants originate. I’m sure that if the rest of the world could, they would like to build a giant bubble over the U.S. to contain our emissions, and let us all choke slowly to death on the results of our corporate greed.
The news is not all bad, for there are some cities, states and even corporations that are moving forward with renewable energy projects. But there are not nearly enough, and the corporate greed of Trump and his rich cohorts is a horror show in the making.
Can Scott Pruitt be removed as Director of the EPA? It would take an act of Congress, literally, impeachment proceedings with the same criteria as impeaching the president: “Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” Does anything Pruitt has done thus far qualify as a high crime or misdemeanor? Legally, it is very doubtful, and the bottom line is that it matters not, for the current, republican-controlled Congress, would not even consider it for a minute, for their pockets are lined by the same people who are lining Pruitt’s. Yet another reason to choose wisely when you go to the polls in November.