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Brief #44—Environment

Policy Summary
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is changing shape. In the last week, the EPA has decided to change its rules on how it uses scientific studies, effectively deregulating public exposure to harmful toxins. Meanwhile, the Agency has announced that it will liquidate a key scientific review panel of 20 experts, in order to make room for a Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC). The panel of experts previously advised on particulate matter in the atmosphere, and out of the five new nominees to the CASAC, only one is a scientist. And the rest of the nominees are reported to have fairly anti-science perspectives. More still, the EPA’s director of the Office of Children’s Health Protection was suspended last month for reasons that have yet to be disclosed to her. The director views her suspension as an attack on children’s health, saying, “my sense is that the government has absolutely no intention of taking any action toward seriously changing lead in children’s environments…It basically means that our kids will continue to be poisoned. It basically means that kids are disposable, they don’t matter.”

Analysis
In the wake of Hurricane Michael, one of the most devastating hurricanes to have pummeled the Florida coastline thus far, President Trump went on 60 Minutes to discuss climate change. In the interview the president said that he no longer thinks of climate change as a “hoax” but is unsure if it is manmade and alleged that scientists “have a very big political agenda.” The magnitude of such allegations is large, given the disarray and anti-science bureaucratic changes taking place within the EPA. And the GOP is now positioning itself as aggressively anti-environment, recently coming down on an EPA provision that protects water, arguing that it makes it too easy to “stop fossil fuel production in some states.” The warning signs are now blaring louder for many Americans, as the GOP dismissed the recent IPCC report regarding the fate of the planet, with Trunp even going so far as to say that the climate is currently “fabulous.” It is unclear how much restructuring the EPA will face under the supervision of former coal-lobbyist Andrew Wheeler, but given the GOP’s environmental record, the fate of the EPA looks grim.

Engagement Resources

  • Save the US EPA: National campaign that was started by the American Federation of Government Employees Council 238 in order to stop the dissolution of the EPA.

This Brief was developed by USRESIST NEWS Analyst Zoe Stricker. Contact: zoe@usresistnews.org

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