Archive for April 22nd, 2018

The fight to save the EPA – “With environmental regulations under attack and EPA budgets being slashed, can the destruction of the agency be prevented?” As a practical matter, no.

Last year, Fortune did a story about the US before EPA. The Environmental Protection Agency was created under Republican President Richard Nixon in December 1970, months after the first Earth Day.

Under this regime, however, data has been buried, altered, silenced. “Across agency websites [not just EPA’s], documents have disappeared, web pages have vanished and language has shifted in ways that appear to reflect the policies of the new administration.” I am told that staff have been directed to change the titles of some reports so nobody could find them or ask for the correct document, an underhanded ploy to render them un-FOIA-able.

The agency is poised to scrap fuel economy targets that are key to curbing global warming. “The EPA is [stupidly] expected to announce… that it will scrap mileage targets the Obama administration drafted in tandem with California that aim to boost average fuel economy for passenger cars and SUVs… undermining one of the world’s most aggressive programs to confront climate change.”

Most sinister, and somewhat complicated to explain, EPA administrator Scott Pruitt is using ‘weaponized transparency’ to destroy public health and block the use of science.

“How could ‘more transparency’ actually mean less information and worse decisions? Many of the studies that the EPA and other agencies [conduct] that address the health and safety of Americans depend on [and] require access to health records. Those health records can be used only if the information is kept carefully anonymous and if some parts of the information are shielded from public scrutiny. Many of these studies include agreements that portions of the data will not be released to the public. Otherwise, these studies risk revealing private information about the health and activities of individuals.

“Under the new proposed guidelines, many of these studies would be either forced to violate privacy rules, or their data could not be used. By filtering this information out, Pruitt hopes to make EPA decisions without being confronted with information that would counter his desire to allow companies to release unlimited toxins.”

So why are Scott Pruitt and other Cabinet-level heads creating a work environment in which employees at agencies say they have seen their core missions changed or even demolished overnight? Some “described living in constant fear that… budget proposals would end in them being laid off en masse. And given the constantly mercurial state of … policies changing at the drop of a hat, leadership hired and fired on a whim, political appointees undermining existing management, and an increasing sense that their overseers are deeply partisan and ignorant of the issues—their workplace environment has reportedly grown worse than toxic.”

It’s because Scott Pruitt says he’s doing God’s work by ignoring climate change and repealing Clean Power Act. Or just maybe it’s that Pruitt has been living in an energy lobbyist’s condo since he moved to D.C. The current challenges to his tenure brings me little comfort, considering the damage already done.

In any case, the United States pulling out of the Paris Accord while the Arctic is melting down and the Antarctic food chain is breaking seems counter-intuitive. Stop blaming ‘both sides’ for America’s climate failures.

We’re going to have to rely on other countries, the states, business, non-governmental organizations, and ourselves to carry on the fight because the current EPA appears to be fighting for environmental perfidy.

Note: similar topic, more optimism in a couple days.

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