Articles Posted in EPA

Thumbnail image for EPA 2428323462_b1d7b53238_o.jpgAccording to a recent Washington Post article, the EPA has lost a tenth of its criminal investigators since Trump has been in office.

The reason this is good news to polluters is that the special agents in the EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division are responsible for investigating the most serious criminal violations of the nation’s anti-pollution laws–violations which can result in prison time for those convicted.

The result is: less investigators, less referrals to the Justice Department for prosecution. In 2017, only 206 criminal cases were referred to the Justice Department compared to 228 during the previous 12 month period under President Obama. Not surprisingly, the number of referrals in 2018 is on pace to drop even lower.

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We keep hearing about big spender, Scott Pruitt, taking first class flights around the globe on the taxpayer’s dime. In fact, Politico reported in February that Pruitt spent over $90,000 last June on first class flights instead of coach, as required by federal regulation, because angry individuals were confronting him in airports and occasionally yelling profanities at him.

It appears, however, that when it comes to spending his own money, he is a bit cheaper.

Last week, ABC News revealed that EPA Chief Pruitt had been renting a Capitol Hill condo partly owned by lobbyist Vicki Hart, whose husband, J. Steven Hart, is president of Williams and Jensen, a firm who lobbies the EPA on behalf of polluters. The terms of the unconventional lease with the lobbyist allowed Pruitt to pay only for nights when he used the condo, at a rate of $50 a night. Apparently, Pruitt’s daughter and wife also stayed at the condo with Pruitt at times. Documents further show that Pruitt paid only $6100 to use the condo over about 6 months, which works out to approximately $1020 for about 20 nights use per month. With weekday rates at 3 star Capitol Hill hotels starting in the mid $200’s, or 2 bedroom apartment rentals running $3000 a month and up, this below-market deal would appear to be an in kind gift to the EPA administrator from a lobbyist…who lobbies the EPA.

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for EPA 2428323462_b1d7b53238_o.jpgYou know when Republican senators start opposing their own president’s nominees, things must be really bad.

Such is the case with Michael Dourson, Trump’s pick to lead the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) chemical safety office. Two Republican senators from North Carolina, Thom Tillis and Richard Burr, recently announced they would not support Dourson. Their opposition stems from the fact that they do not believe that Dourson would protect North Carolina residents from contamination threats–like the Camp Lejeune water contamination and the recent discovery of a chemical called Gen X in the Cape Fear River–which plague their state.

The reason for their concern is apparent to anyone who cares about environmental protection: Dourson, a lackey for the chemical industry, has been paid for years to underplay the harm of various chemicals. His history makes clear which side of the issue this nominee stands on. He has no intention of protecting the people from dangerous chemicals; his loyalty belongs to the industries which paid him.

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If Scott Pruitt wants to spend his professional career as little more than a cabana boy to polluters, that’s his business.

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He wants to be in charge of the US Environmental Protection Agency, whose mission it is to regulate and, where necessary, punish those same polluters. There, Pruitt’s joy in providing total, unbridled servitude to polluters has no place.

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Over these last few days since President Trump pulled the US out of the Paris climate accord, he and his aides-most prominently, EPA chief Scott Pruitt-have been unwilling to answer a simple question: “Does the President think that climate change is a hoax?”

However, for as important as this question is, it is unnecessary. Why? Because we already know the answer. And the answer is that Trump and Pruitt do not believe in global warming. In fact, it’s even worse than that. These guys do not believe in science. They do not accept that science has any role to play in environmental decision-making.

We know this because their contempt for science has been at the root of every decision they have made: from pulling out of the Paris deal; to insisting that the EPA’s budget be slashed by a third; to firing EPA scientists and pulling scientific information off the EPA’s website; to wanting to cut almost half the resources currently being used to clean up the country’s most dangerously contaminated (“Superfund”) sites; to putting back on the market a pesticide already proven (by EPA scientists, no less) to damage children’s brains.

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Thumbnail image for coal-1626401_1920.jpgYour average second grader knows that 1,300 is not the same as 50,000…..and that 400 is not the same as 7,000.

But the man who heads the US EPA evidently does not know this.

EPA chief Scott Pruitt was all over the airwaves the last few days, defending the United States’ backing out of the Paris climate change accord by saying that the decision was necessary to support coal industry job creation. As statistical evidence to support this, Pruitt claimed:

Thumbnail image for EPA 2428323462_b1d7b53238_o.jpgHot off the presses is the Trump/Pruitt proposed 31% cut to the EPA’s budget, including slashing more than $300 million from the fund used to clean up the most toxic and dangerous sites in America, i.e., “Superfund” sites. If this cut passes Congress, thousands will get sick and others still will die because the contamination that the EPA would have cleaned up or mitigated will now be left in the environment to wreak havoc on our citizens, mostly children.

For the last 3 months, EPA Chief Pruitt has promised that such massive cuts made sense because the states were in a better position than the federal government to provide the necessary environmental protection.

Well, the new budget proposal reveals Pruitt’s promise to be a lie, as it proposes to slash the environmental grants to states by 45%, from $1.1 billion to $600 million. In other words, Pruitt wants to take away half of the states’ resources for fighting pollution, at the same time that he promises that they will fight more pollution.

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for donald-2075124_1920.pngThis blog is dedicated primarily to environmental issues, and so over the last four months I have blogged with alarm and sadness and sometimes even anger as our new President has done everything within his power to dismantle the EPA–which is the primary federal agency for the protection of public health in this country. Families that I have represented, as well as countless hundreds of thousands of others, are alive and in good health today because the EPA takes seriously its job to warn us as to how dangerous certain industrial chemicals really are; notifies neighborhoods when those chemicals have invaded their air or drinking water; and forces polluters to clean them up.

Trump has also claimed global warming to be a “hoax”, abandoning our role as natural leaders on this important issue, and suddenly consigning the US to the status of a third world back-bencher on the issue perhaps most threatening to the future of mankind. He has appointed to head the EPA a dedicated stooge for the world’s most aggressive polluters (Scott Pruitt), who has joined Trump in discrediting and even firing scientists working for the federal government who have devoted their professional lives to making us all safer.

There has been an almost casual cruelty to Trump’s having done all of this, and so quickly, without even a glancing consideration afforded the millions of Americans–children, first among them–whose health and futures are now endangered because of these blindingly ill-advised actions.

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science-1336664_1920.jpgThe other shoe is dropping. We learned last week that EPA chief Scott Pruitt was firing his agency’s scientists—the ones who review scientific evidence and determine whether, for example, humans can tolerate less contamination in their drinking water than previously thought, or certain pesticides do damage to children’s developing brains, and therefore should be off the market. We just learned this week that he will likely replace these scientists not with other scientists who are looking out for the people whom the agency is charged with protecting, but instead with so called “representatives” of the industries the agency is supposed to be watching and regulating and punishing, where necessary, for polluting.

In other words, Pruitt will be trading scientists for corporate lobbyists. He will be transforming the EPA from the protector of the health of the American people to the protector of the profit of the American polluter. It’s a grotesque disfigurement of one of the most valuable and necessary champions of clean air and water that we have had in our society. It’s startling: the EPA will lose key scientists who believe their job is to protect our health.

So it’s not just that Pruitt disagrees with the scientists who know what it takes to keep people safe; it’s that he has decided that their voices aren’t important enough to listen to. It is no exaggeration to say that this decision will cost people their lives.

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The oil industry hack (Scott Pruitt) who was appointed by President Trump to head the EPA has just quietly fired half the members of the EPA’s Science Advisory Board. This is the group of highly-regarded and dedicated scientists who determine, for example, the dangers to human health threatened by the chemicals that the oil industry and others force into our environment. It is not clear at this moment whether Pruitt plans to not replace the members of the Science Advisory Board at all-which would be logical, since Trump and Pruitt are openly hostile to science-or to replace the scientists with frauds who, for example, deny that pesticides harm children, and that petroleum industrial pollution has anything to do with global warming. It’s (yet another) sad day for human health and the environment in America.

sun-1884518_1920.jpgFiring scientists who make decisions based on scientific evidence smacks of Galileo being convicted of suspected heresy for teaching that the earth revolves around the sun. The scary thing is that, while Galileo was condemned for telling scientific truths in 1633, Pruitt did the same thing this past weekend. Almost 400 years later. Maybe Pruitt has found some nut in a lab coat who will say that Galileo was wrong, after all, and deserved to be convicted.

Don’t laugh.

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