President Trump’s war on basic facts continues — but this time, you’ll literally end up choking on it.
Late last week, the President and his Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott “Coal Belchin'” Pruitt quietly fired five members of the Board of Scientific Counselors, a panel that evaluates research done by EPA scientists to help government regulators create the rules that protect clean air, water and soil, among many other things. It’s part of a larger war on science that includes a House bill that would require more industry representatives on another EPA science panel so that it’s oversight of industry is more “balanced”…towards industry!
Of course, Trump has no use for these panels because he has no use for clean air and water regulations. From the moment he took office, the 45th President began turning back the clock on basic environmental stewardship:
Jan. 23: “President Trump institutes media blackout at EPA.” Three days into his administration, the President barred EPA employees “from providing updates on social media or providing information to reporters.”
Jan. 25: “Trump administration mandates all EPA studies to be first reviewed by political staffers before public sees them.” The policy weakened an Obama Administration rule that allowed scientists to work “uncompromised by political or other interference.”
March 3: “President Trump proposes to chop EPA budget by 25%, hitting areas like toxic cleanups and pollution law enforcement.” That announcement of a scale-back of the Environmental Protection Agency’s role of protecting the environment also came with a kicker: the agency was also “withdrawing an Obama-era request that oil and natural gas companies provide information on methane emissions at oil and gas operations.” In other words, who needs to know how much methane is being pumped into the environment? Methane is just air, right?
March 9: “Pruitt doesn’t believe carbon dioxide is a ‘primary contributor’ to global warming.” No matter what you think our response to global warming should be, there is no doubt in the scientific community that excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is causing it. It is simply counter-factual to argue otherwise.
April 19: “EPA seeks to scuttle cleanup of coal power plant pollution.” The move will no longer force industries to “cut emissions of toxic chemicals … the latest in a string of moves by President Donald Trump’s appointees to help companies that profit from burning of fossil fuels,” the Associated Press reported.
In that context, the firing of five of the 18 members of the scientific oversight committee makes complete sense. Who needs independent scientific assessment of the environmental impact of industry when the Administration’s goal is unfettered, unregulated impact?
“(Pruitt) believes we should have people on this board who understand the impact of regulations on the regulated community,” EPA spokesman, J. P. Freire told the New York Times after the five members of the Board of Scientific Counselors were sacked.
One of the scientists who was sacked announced his termination on the President’s favorite public information service, Twitter, saying, “Today, I was Trumped.” The scientist, Robert Richardson of Michigan State University, went on to post, “You’ve got one planet. What are you prepared to do with it? Create jobs? That seems awfully short-sighted and narrow-minded.”
Other agencies, of course, have cozied up to the industries they’re supposed to regulate — with disastrous results. For many years, for example, the Department of Agriculture skewed the food pyramid so that its dietary recommendations wouldn’t hurt American beef and dairy industries. And when she was President Bush’s Secretary of Labor bowed to coal industry requests to loosen mine safety regulations — and the result was more accidents and injuries to miners.
Cutting corners is what industry does to make a profit. Making sure all the i’s are dotted and the t’s are crossed is what government is supposed to do.
But not in Trumpworld, where holding industry accountable with regulations based on sound science has become some kind of quaint hippie notion.
It’s not. It’s science. And science doesn’t change based on who lives in the White House.
The planet is warming. Politicians can make decisions based on that fact, but disputing the fact is like denying the sun will come up tomorrow. It’s going to come up. Will you simply say that it didn’t rise or will you put on sunscreen?