The EPA’s director of science and technology in the agency’s Office of Water resigned her post on Tuesday to protest that “the [Trump] administration is seriously weakening EPA’s mission.”
Elizabeth Southerland has served with the EPA for the last 30 years, and she loved every minute of it — until the current administration and the agency’s new Administrator, Scott Pruitt, stepped onto the scene with a bang (of ignoring science). To protest their efforts of neutering the EPA, the environmental protection veteran decided to join a growing body of protesting researchers and leave the agency. While she admits that family concerns also played a hand in the decision, her blistering exit letter makes no qualms in criticizing the Trump administration’s fondness for outright lies.
“The environmental field is suffering from the temporary triumph of myth over truth,” she wrote.
“The truth is there is NO war on coal, there is NO economic crisis caused by environmental protection, and climate change IS caused by man’s activities.”
Sutherland says that since Scott Pruitt took over as EPA’s Administrator, he’s rejected dozens of new environmental protection regulations. Budget cuts proposed by the Trump administration (both for the agency and for their state and tribal funding) would also severely limit the EPA’s ability to implement new measures, enforce already-existing ones, and will cripple many communities’ ability to uphold EPA regulation even if they want to. One measure, in particular, seems tailor-made to force the agency into inaction — president Trump’s demand that two federal regulations be struck from the books for every new one added.
And no, this isn’t one of those cases where the invisible hand will take over to guide markets into a new, regulation-less era of safety, health, and prosperity for all. Oh no. Like medical insurees and national park personnel can attest, it’s one of those times where the Orange Overlord’s government is actively looking to shaft you.
“Should EPA repeal two existing rules protecting infants from neurotoxins in order to promulgate a new rule protecting adults from a newly discovered liver toxin?” Sutherland wrote.
“Faced with such painful choices, the best possible outcome for the American people would be regulatory paralysis where no new rules are released so that existing protections remain in place.”
You know who doesn’t like new environmental and health regulation? Companies willing to pump mercury into the atmosphere to raise their stock by a few points. You know who should like new regulation? The average John and Jane trying not to get brain damage when drinking a glass of water. The EPA is the one advocating on behalf of the latter two, the one trying “to make the ‘right thing’ happen for the greater good”– limiting its ability to act and keep up with the going-ons isn’t the way to go.
Southerland is confident that eventually, “Congress and the courts will […] restore all the environmental protections repealed by this administration,” as most Americans recognize that the EPA’s safeguarding of the public health and safety is “right and it is just.” However, the issue here is time. “It may take a few years and even an environmental disaster” to make it happen, she admits. In the meantime, the US is shackling its foremost environmental agency as governments across the globe are scrambling to meet the demands of the Paris agreement. The administration is disarming their environmental watchdog and making quality medical assistance a pipe dream for a lot of Americans, despite them being faced with literally deadly conditions in the future. Because you know, regulation is bad, mkay?
Maybe it’s just me but when you put it like that, ideology doesn’t seem that important anymore. Guess it’s just greed then.
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