Tracking the Environmental Policies of the Trump Administration >>
News from Ground Control: Planet Trump (March 10)
In another tumultuous week for the Trump White House, alleged corruption, regulatory rollbacks and head-scratching statements reigned supreme.
An EWG investigation found that agriculture secretary nominee and former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue used state tax legislation to give himself a six-figure tax break, accepted more than $25,000 in gifts from lobbyists and used state helicopters as toys.
Another concerning development is the ascension of the Regulatory Accountability Act – a proposed law making its way through Congress now. This bill, as EWG Vice President of Government Affairs Scott Faber put it, “would create a never-ending gauntlet of regulatory obstacles that public health agencies would find nearly impossible to clear.”
And finally, during an interview with CNBC yesterday, Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt made a dumbfounding statement in which he refused to acknowledge the role carbon dioxide plays in climate change.
Of Pruitt’s refusal to acknowledge the basic truths of climate change, EWG President Ken Cook said, “He and President Trump are the only two people on Earth standing in the way of the U.S. taking the bold actions necessary to stave off the devastation climate change is already causing worldwide.”
Here are several of this past week’s deep dives on that development, along with other worrisome environmental and public health actions taken by the Trump administration.
The New York Times, Eric Lipton and Steve Eder (March 8, 2017) Ethics Questions Dogged Agriculture Nominee as Georgia Governor
Scott Faber of the Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit organization that keeps a close watch on policies at the Agriculture Department, said he had questions about Mr. Perdue’s fitness to take over the department.
“Given his record of self-dealing and conflicts of interest as governor of Georgia, it is fair to ask if he is fit to run a $140-billion-a-year federal agency,” Mr. Faber said.
Politico, Michael Grunwald (March 10, 2017) The Coming GOP Assault on Regulations
Environmental Working Group vice president Scott Faber calls regulatory reform “the one fight we can’t lose”—a battle that isn’t particularly sexy, but could paralyze a process that has helped prevent millions of accidents and illnesses. He has argued to wavering Democrats that while the next president can easily reverse Trump’s executive order calling for the elimination of two old rules for every new rule, as well as his efforts to kill specific regulations and defang regulatory agencies, an actual piece of legislation that enshrines procedural changes could linger for generations, strangling the regulations of the future in their cradles.
“Trump is temporary. Regulatory reform is forever,” Faber said.
Fusion, Lucas Isakowitz (March 10, 2017) The Internet Reacts to Scott Pruitt’s Ignorant Denial that CO2 is Driving Climate Change
We wanted to check EPA Administrator Pruitt’s comments with appropriate scientific experts, but all the fifth graders we know are still in school.
NPR, Dan Charles (March 7, 2017) Farmers Fight Environmental Regulations
The way environmentalist Craig Cox sees it, streams and rivers across much of the country are suffering from the side effects of growing our food. Yet the people responsible for that pollution, America's farmers, are fighting any hint of regulation to prevent it.
"The leading problems are driven by fertilizer and manure runoff from farm operations," says Cox, who is the Environmental Working Group's top expert on agriculture.
Across the Midwest, he says, nitrate-filled water from farm fields is making drinking water less safe. Phosphorus runoff is feeding toxic algae blooms in rivers and lakes, "interfering with people's vacations. [They're] taking their kids to the beach and the beach is closed. There's stories about people getting sick."
This is preventable, Cox says. Farmers can take simple steps to reduce the problems dramatically. They can plant "cover crops," making sure that there's always vegetation on their fields to capture nitrates before that pollution runs into streams. They can plant wide, grassy "filter strips" along stream banks. They can send the water from underground drainage pipes into wetlands rather than straight into streams.
Fusion, Lucas Isakowitz (March 9, 2017) Enviro Groups Blast Trump Plan to Gut EPA’s Environmental Justice Office as a ‘Racist Slap in the Face’
In response to the proposed cuts on the environmental justice office, Ken Cook, the president of Environmental Working Group, said:
If you want to know who Donald Trump really cares about, follow the money. Tax cuts for billionaires? No problem. But an EPA program that spends a paltry amount to address the outsized burden of pollution on low-income communities of color is too expensive. It’s a shameful and frankly racist slap in the face to people who are already suffering the most from toxic chemicals in their air and water.
The Huffington Post, Dominique Mosbergen (March 7, 2017) Trump Wants to Dismantle the Clean Water Rule. Here’s What’s at Stake.
A repeal of the Clean Water Rule could threaten the drinking water of 117 million Americans, according to a recent nationwide analysis by the Environmental Working Group.
More than one-third of Americans get at least some of their drinking water from small streams, according to the report. More than 72 million Americans rely on small streams for more than half of their water.
In 21 different states, small streams were found to provide drinking water for 1 million or more people. More than 5 million people in New York, Pennsylvania and Texas get drinking water from small streams, said the EWG, as do more than 3 million people in Arizona, California, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina and Ohio.
“Small streams are where big rivers start, and the best science confirms that dirty streams means even dirtier rivers,” EWG said in a statement. “Undermining, weakening or rescinding [the Clean Water Rule] is a gift to corporate polluters and Big Ag, and a threat to public health and the environment.”