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Articles Posted in EPA

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.

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.

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.

Thumbnail image for EPA 2428323462_b1d7b53238_o.jpgAn environmental group known as the Center for Biological Diversity just sued the EPA under the Freedom of Information Act. The Center requested that the EPA make public EPA chief Pruitt’s email communications with polluters like oil companies and pesticide manufacturers. The Center wants to know if, while he has been the EPA chief, Pruitt is behaving like he always has when he holds public office, i.e., doing the bidding of polluters, unremorseful about the damage he is doing to the citizens whose health he is charged to protect.

Naturally, the EPA-now under Pruitt’s control-refused to turn over a single piece of paper. But Pruitt’s communications with these polluters are not secret; under the law, the public has the right to see them. Let’s hope the Center is successful in its suit and gets these documents that Pruitt wants to keep secret. And let’s hope it’s the next step in Pruitt leaving the EPA in disgrace, as he deserves.

https://www.eenews.net/greenwire/stories/1060053991/feed

Here’s a good example of why we don’t trust our government.1

A lawyer named Bob Sussman used to work at the Environmental Protection Agency in Washington, DC from 2009 to 2013.  While he was at EPA, Sussman was involved in the agency’s decision to seek lower limits on allowable ozone pollution.2  So that there would be less ozone in the environment.  Because ozone pollution is significantly responsible for the climate change that threatens the planet and all who live on it.

Then, Sussman left EPA.  He went to work consulting for some of the world’s biggest polluters, like BP Amoco.

Co-Authored by Norman B. Berger

A comparison of Pope Francis’ recent encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si’, with our Supreme Court’s recent decision on power plant emissions raises troubling questions regarding the moral core of our environmental decision-making.

The Pope wrote passionately about how it is the poor who bear the brunt of power plants recklessly spewing toxic chemicals into the air:

On nearly the one year anniversary of the Gulf Oil Spill, last week the President and Congress shook hands on a deal that stripped more than $1.5 billion – 16% – from the budget of the Environmental Protection Agency, specifically gutting funds for reducing pollution from coal mining and power plants. Why?  Too much clean air in power plant neighborhoods?  Or maybe this 16% cut is simply EPA’s fair share toward trimming the nation’s deficit? Hardly.  EPA got one of the biggest percentage cuts of all – compare with the Department of Defense, which actually got a $5 billion increase.  Put it another way:  if every federal program had gotten a cut as large as 16% last week, our deficit problem would be solved.  So, the big cut for EPA was obviously more than “fiscal responsibility” at work. Plain and simple, the need for a budget deal last week served as an excuse for an attack on EPA by big polluters and those elected representatives who serve them in Washington.  Their logic was breathtakingly simple.  If we take EPA’s money away, EPA can’t make us stop polluting the air and water.  So that’s what really happened last week. But the truly bad thing about this deal is not so much what it did to EPA’s current budget, but that it sent the signal – from the Obama White House, no less – that protecting families and their homes against pollution is just not a priority these days.  That when someone is searching for funding to sustain tax cuts for millionaires, or to add to the Defense Department budget for war, or for just about any other reason at all, we will sacrifice our health and safety. Bad idea.  Really bad idea. Here’s what we’ve learned over the last 10 years fighting polluters in court:  The polluters have EPA on the run…right now.  Even before last week’s massive EPA budget cut takes hold.  In every case, we saw polluters employ armies of lawyers and consultants to browbeat an under-staffed EPA into thinking that the polluter really isn’t responsible for the pollution in the first place, or that the pollution really isn’t that dangerous after all.  Or both.  Their goal is to spend as little money as possible.  And they accomplish it by slowing down – to a 50-year crawl, in some cases – the timeline for cleaning up toxic dump sites that are the source of contamination in neighborhoods all over the country and minimizing the scope of any clean-up that EPA ultimately decides is necessary. And now, after last week, EPA is even less able to do battle with them on these critical issues. Last week was just the latest in a series of acts of governmental irresponsibility when it comes to our environment.  Another demonstration that we simply refuse to learn from our mistakes….that our memory is shockingly short.  It was a big day for polluters.  And bad news for everybody else.   A hell of a lot more than the budget got cut.  Regrettably, there’s more to come.

Last week, the President and Congress shook hands on a deal that stripped more than $1.5 billion – 16% – from the budget of the Environmental Protection Agency, specifically gutting funds for reducing pollution from coal mining and power plants. Why?  Too much clean air in power plant neighborhoods?  Or maybe this 16% cut is simply EPA’s fair share toward trimming the nation’s deficit? Hardly.  EPA got one of the biggest percentage cuts of all – compare with the Department of Defense, which actually got a $5 billion increase.  Put it another way:  if every federal program had gotten a cut as large as 16% last week, our deficit problem would be solved.  So, there was obviously more than “fiscal responsibility” at work. Plain and simple, the need for a budget deal last week served as an excuse for an attack on EPA by big polluters and those elected representatives who serve them in Washington.  Their logic was breathtakingly simple.  If we take EPA’s money away, EPA can’t make us stop polluting the air and water.  So that’s what happened last week. But the truly bad thing about this deal is not so much what it did to EPA’s current budget, but that it sent the signal – from the Obama White House, no less – that protecting families and their homes against pollution is just not a priority these days.  That when someone is searching for funding to sustain tax cuts for millionaires, or to add to the Defense Department budget for war, or for just about any other reason at all, we will sacrifice our health and safety. Bad idea.  Really bad idea. Here’s what I learned over the last 10 years fighting polluters in court:  The polluters have EPA on the run…right now.  Even before last week’s massive EPA budget cut takes hold.  In every case, I saw polluters employ armies of lawyers and consultants to browbeat an under-staffed EPA into thinking that the polluter really isn’t responsible for the pollution in the first place, or that the pollution really isn’t that dangerous after all.  Or both.  Their goal is to spend less money.  And they accomplish it, by slowing down – to a 50-year crawl, in some cases – the timeline for cleaning up toxic dump sites that are the source of contamination in neighborhoods all over the country and minimizing the scope of any clean-up that EPA ultimately decides is necessary. And now, after last week, EPA is even less able to do battle with them on these critical issues. Last week was a big day for polluters.  And bad news for everybody else.   A hell of a lot more than the budget got cut.

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