In Case You Missed It: The State of Trump’s Assault on the EPA
With so much going on, many people know little about the Trump Administration’s assault on the environmental safeguards that protect our children’s health and the nation’s economic growth.
That’s why we’re launching EDAF ICYMI, a weekly digest of the top stories affecting environmental policy. We’ll be keeping it short and to the point, so you can stay on top of key developments each week.
Edition Four: Saturday, September 9th
Political Leaders Weaken EPA’s Response to Hurricane Harvey
- In June, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt heeded chemical industry lobbyists and delayed a safety rule that would have required additional future safeguards to help address the kinds of problems that occurred with firms like Arkema, which spewed dangerous chemicals after Hurricane Harvey hit.
- EPA won’t say whether it will step up monitoring of plants making hazardous substances as they restart after the storm.
- Christine Todd Whitman, who led EPA for President George W. Bush, slammed Pruitt and President Trump for their failure to fill key EPA leadership slots before Harvey, charging that their inaction made the disaster worse.
- And even as Hurricane Irma approaches Florida, Administrator Pruitt is pushing out hundreds of key EPA employees, despite warnings from EPA’s own inspector general and the Government Accountability Office that the agency is understaffed.
- After the Associated Press visited at-risk Superfund sites that EPA had not been inspected, stung EPA leaders attacked the reporters in personal terms.
- Pruitt has put a former Trump political operative, John Konkus, in charge of vetting hundreds of millions of dollars in federal grants. Konkus calls climate change “the double C-word” and vetoes grants accordingly.
- Konkus is already using grantmaking as a political tool, halting all grants to Alaska after Senator Lisa Murkowski from Alaska voted down a Republican bill to repeal Obamacare.
- Senator Tom Carper demanded answers as to why grants to Democratic states in particular had been cut.
- Politico named Pruitt #9 on its list of “50 ideas blowing up American politics and the people behind them.”
- Senator Carper is also asking Pruitt why the EPA removed information showing that a 2015 Clean Water Rule provides $500 million in economic benefits.
State Attorneys General Step Up as EPA Steps Back
- A coalition of state AGs is accusing Pruitt of providing “legally incorrect” guidance to states about ignoring an Obama-era climate change regulation.
- 14 states will also sue Pruitt’s EPA if he pulls fuel efficiency standards for cars.
Another Good Week for Industry Polluters
- President Trump nominated a Florida attorney known for firing state enforcement attorneys for being too tough on polluters to act as EPA’s top lawyer.
- The Environmental Working Group reported this week that 90 million Americans are drinking tap water containing 1,4-dioxane, a cancer-causing industrial solvent. But Trump’s chemical safety nominee has pressed to loosen exposure levels to the solvent by 1,000 percent.
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