- Trump named as head of the EPA, Scott Pruitt, a lackey for the petroleum industry who has spent his legal career arguing that the Environmental Protection Agency doesn’t have the power to protect the environment. To witness Pruitt in action is to watch an idiot–who was put in place by Trump, not just because he is an idiot, but because he is the oil industry’s idiot–who will make you believe that he begins each day wondering, “What can I do for oil companies today?”
- Trump and Pruitt have both publicly toyed with the idea of eliminating the EPA altogether, and recently proposed to cut its budget by 31%–greater than that for any other federal agency.
- They want to cut by almost 50% the already grossly inadequate funds dedicated to cleaning up the country’s most contaminated and dangerous sites (“Superfund” sites)
- They cynically defend these cuts by promising that the states’ environmental agencies will “pick up the slack” and “are in a better position to do the work anyway”, even though they know this is a lie. Most of the states do not have the money or competence to do the things that the EPA does, and many of them are on record saying so.
- They have pulled down from the EPA’s website truthful scientific information that the petroleum companies did not want there.
- They have withdrawn EPA’s previous ban of a pesticide (“chlorpyrifos”), even though years of scientific study proved that it threatens young children’s developing brains.
- They fired EPA scientists whose job it was to keep the agency focused on its mission of protecting the public’s health.
These decisions reveal a level of ignorance and cruelty that was unthinkable until Trump came along. Environmental protection is a moral issue, above all else. Because, while in a general sense all of us are the victims of pollution, and of the wars over a lack of water and food that rampaging climate change is already provoking, the truth is that those most acutely threatened are the poor, the politically powerless, and, especially, their children. They are the ones who get sick and die, or have shortened life spans, or must live (if they are so lucky to live at all) with starvation, debilitating cancers and chronic respiratory disease…..because decisions such as Trump’s announce that these human beings are not deserving of the same standard of environmental protection as everyone else.
Trump’s decisions are immoral. Because they are made by our elected leader–and because the rest of the world understandably believes that he speaks for Americans–these decisions declare that, as a country, America is abandoning those who suffer most from pollution, and are least able to defend themselves against it.
And, as if that were not sobering enough, there is this: when America does a thing this terrible, it licenses every country in the world to do so as well. Our President’s cheerful surrender of our place of moral leadership on worldwide environmental issues means not only that there will be angry debates on TV talk shows.
It means that people will die.