Judith Enck: Assault On Our Environment

Feb 23, 2017

It is hard to overstate the seriousness of the Trump Administration’s assault on environmental protection. 

For the past 7 years, I had the honor to serve as an EPA Regional Administrator.

I know that recently confirmed EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt is poised to do serious damage.

Pruitt was approved by the US Senate by a vote of 52-46, with Democratic Senators  Heitkamp and Manchin voting in favor.  No doubt, in deference to the fossil fuel companies in their home states of West Virginia and North Dakota.

A few things you need to know about Scott Pruitt.

One of the best things EPA ever did decades ago was require that lead be removed from gasoline.  Lead is a neurotoxin and interferes with a child’s ability to learn  When asked if he supported removing lead from gasoline, he said “I have not evaluated this issue.” 

As Attorney General, he sued the EPA 14 times. And he refuses to recuse himself from these lawsuits. 

When asked if there was one EPA regulation he could support, he could not even name one.

And in a recent interview with the Wall Street Journal he said he will “overhaul” the way the EPA does its scientific studies.

97% of scientists agree that climate change is real and caused by fossil fuel pollution.  But not Scott Pruitt.

Given this  situation, it is important that the Congress provides oversight.

Yet the same week the Senate approved Pruitt, the House passed a resolution that overturned  the federal Stream Protection Rule.  Which prohibited coal mining debris to be dumped in streams.

6,000 miles of streams and 52,000 acres of forests will no longer be protected. 

Local Congressmembers John Faso (in his first major environmental vote) and Elise Stefanik voted to allow coal mining debris to be dumped in streams.  Coal debris in streams – what could possibly go wrong with that? 

The confirmation of EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, coupled with the House vote on coal, makes it clear that the fossil fuel industry is in the driver’s seat in Washington.  And they are going to drive us right over the cliff.

Pay attention to the latest developments on climate change. 

There is news almost every week, such as the ten hottest years ever recorded all occurred since 1998.

Watch “Before the Flood”, Leonardo DiCaprio’s excellent movie about climate change.

It makes the Titanic look like a walk in the park.

There is no point in sugarcoating this.

The hostile takeover of the EPA, and the shrugs of indifference from some members of Congress, is like nothing we have ever seen before.

There is a lot that states and communities and businesses can do, but make no mistake:  having the federal government embracing anti-environmental policies, will damage our health, our economy and our children’s future.

Judith Enck served as the Adminsitrator of EPA's Region 2, which includes New York and New Jersey, for seven years. Enck also served as Deputy Secretary for the Environment in the New York Governor's Office. She is now a visiting scholar at Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University.

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