Editor’s Note: For an alternative viewpoint, please see Point: Finally, There Will Be an Objective Federal Climate Commission.
For the third time in as many years, President Trump has proposed a federal budget that slashes funds for the Environmental Protection Agency by 30 percent. Public health officials, climate scientists and other scientific experts have long warned about the dire consequences for human and environmental health that would result from a grossly underfunded EPA. And as he has since the earliest days of his administration, Trump is ignoring them.
The Trump administration’s open contempt of science and facts, and scientific institutions in America and the world over, is hardly limited to EPA — Trump’s budget proposal also called for draconian cuts to the National Science Foundation, NASA, the National Institute of Standards and Technology and many more.
But Trump’s relentless attacks on the environment are particularly brazen. He routinely spreads false information about climate change. He has hired industry insiders and lobbyists for essential EPA positions. And his attacks on public health and environmental safeguards are so extreme as to arouse opposition even from industry.
Among his transgressions:
—He appointed a former coal lobbyist to lead the EPA.
—He appointed to a top EPA scientific advisory position a toxicologist who argued with a straight face that air pollution isn’t harmful.
—His has appointed former oil and gas lobbyists to key advisory posts in his administration.
—He appointed a prominent climate change denier to lead EPA’s transition team.
The American Pediatric Association warns that mercury pollution can cause birth defects and brain damage in children. Trump’s EPA put children’s health at risk by attacking mercury rules for power plants. Every major power company association opposes the attack.
A diverse coalition of science and environmental groups has voiced strong support for maintaining clean car standards in the United States that lower pollution, all while saving American families money. Trump is ignoring their advice and moving to roll back the rules. Even auto manufacturers are raising concerns with his decision.
EPA and other federal agencies rely on the counsel of scientific experts to ensure policies are developed with sound science. Trump is eliminating essential science positions at EPA and other agencies.
Trump’s indifference to the consequences of human exposure to chemical hazards is readily apparent in his administration’s woefully inadequate implementation of the Toxic Substances Control Act.
Trump’s disregard for climate science is even more pronounced. Every major scientific organization in America — NASA, the American Medical Association, the American Meteorological Association, to name just a few — all agree climate change is real and caused by human activity. But Trump appears unmoved, and claims he does “not know if it’s manmade.” He routinely dismisses the increasingly dire climate reports released by the nation’s top climate scientists. His administration has even gone so far as to scrub mentions of climate change from federal agency websites.
It is hard to overstate how much Americans need strong environmental protections to protect human health. Up to 10 million homes across America still get their drinking water through lead pipes — in Flint, Michigan, and across the nation.
According to the American Lung Association, 125 million Americans live in counties with unhealthy air quality. We need more, better protection from pollution, not less — especially children, the elderly and others who are particularly vulnerable to the dangers of pollution.
Meanwhile, recent reports from top scientific organizations make it abundantly clear that aggressive action is needed to address climate change.
All of these pressing environmental problems continue to be ignored by the White House. And so long as Trump remains president, we can expect attacks on science-based environmental safeguards to continue. That’s why we need Congress to roundly reject his proposed cuts to EPA and fully fund this agency that is tasked with protecting human and environmental health.
Settled science should transcend politics. Americans deserve environmental protections based on sound science. Anything less is unethical, and unacceptable.