It has been difficult–sometimes nearly impossible–to find policy consistency in the Trump administration. Certainly, looking to His Craziness for anything remotely like an ongoing strategy (other than enriching himself and bragging) is a lost cause. But there has been one exception to the chaos rule.
From its first day, the Trump administration has waged war on the EPA. Scientists have been summarily dismissed. Enforcement has been dramatically reduced. Years of solid research have been ignored. Rules put in place based upon considerable evidence have been rolled back. Controls on mercury? Gone. Regulation of toxic substances in consumer goods? Gone. Safeguards against repeats of the disastrous BT spill? Gone.
Publications like National Geographic and Scientific Amerrican have kept running lists of the protections that this administration has gutted. Last December, the New York Times had an article focused on “95 Environmental Rules Being Rolled Back Under Trump.”
Clean air, potable water–clearly not as important as the bottom lines of friends of the administration.
That this administration has no ethical core will come as no surprise to anyone even casually following the news. The cabinet members appointed by Trump seem uniformly chosen for their willingness to destroy the agencies they are supposed to serve. As damaging as this has been in other agencies, it has been most destructive–and most incomprehensible–at the EPA.
Who doesn’t want drinkable water? Who wants to encourage use of chemicals that are demonstrably cancer-producing? How much lobbyist money in the pockets of GOP officials is enough to make them unconcerned about the air their grandchildren will breathe?
I find these questions baffling.
A House Oversight and Reform Committee review found the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) let political appointees take months to sign required ethics pledges and compile recusal lists, allowing leaders to work on issues where they had substantial conflicts of interest, the panel argued.
An executive order signed during President Trump’s second week in office requires federal employees to avoid working with former clients for their first two years.
“These documents indicate that EPA allowed senior agency officials to avoid or delay completing required ethics forms and that EPA was missing forms entirely for some officials,” committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) and subcommittee Chairman Harley Rouda (D-Calif.) wrote in a letter to the agency.
“The Committee identified multiple instances in which EPA officials failed to complete required ethics documents or sign ethics pledges required by Executive Order 13770. EPA also allowed officials to delay the finalization of critical ethics agreements for significant periods of time after joining the agency.”
In one case–labeled “egregious,” in the analysis– an EPA employee took 300 days to finalize his recusal statement–and in the interim, took the lead on a number of air regulations “beneficial to former clients from his days as a coal, oil and gas lobbyist”.
The EPA has been staffed with numerous former lobbyists at the same time that it has been divested of scientists. The attacks on environmental regulations have been consistent–despite the demonstrable success of those regulations in cleaning the air and water, and reducing deaths attributable to pollution.
Again, my question is: why? We all have to occupy this planet. We all have to breathe the same air and drink the same water. What political or monetary advantage is more important than the lives and health of our children and grandchildren?
Are these–and others like them– just people who reject science and evidence?
Are the people dismantling the EPA all bought and paid for possessions of fossil fuel interests? Or are they members of the pseudo-religious “God will take care of us, no need to do our part” cult?
Have they identified another habitable planet, and found a way to get there?
I really don’t understand.