On Monday 27 February Donald Trump will announce major cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The US President is putting his climate change denial into action. And the consequences will be dire.
Dismantling environmental protection
As top officials told Axios, we can expect “transformational” cuts to the EPA, particularly to climate change measures.
The new head of the EPA is Scott Pruitt, who described himself as the “leading advocate against the EPA’s activist agenda”. And as previously reported at The Canary, he has sued the EPA multiple times over regulations that reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and protect clean drinking water.
The EPA’s workforce could be cut to a third of its current size. Meanwhile, the military budget is increasing, while the environmental budget is being slashed. This is worrying. Scott Faber of the Environmental Working Group said:
The EPA is the only guarantee that when you turn on your tap your water isn’t full of shit.
More danger ahead
Research highlights that up to 16% of fracking sites spill liquids every year. And the EPA does important work researching the dangers of fracking, such as the risk of drinking water being contaminated.
US GHG emissions dipped in 2015. But Trump, and powerful members of his Cabinet, favour policies that prioritise fossil fuel growth. So it is likely that the four years ahead will see a rise in carbon emissions from the US.
History repeating itself
The EPA was created in 1970 by then president, Richard Nixon. At that time, pollution made many rivers and streams unsafe for fishing and swimming. And cities were covered in thick smog.
Between 1971 and 1977, the agency hired photographers to capture the country’s environmental problems. These photos illustrate how bad the situation used to be before the EPA cleaned up the country. Trump has failed to take on board these lessons from history.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says the US has one of the safest public drinking water supplies in the world. But under Trump, clean drinking water will be under threat. In spite of the CDC’s reassuring claims, millions are already drinking unsafe water. And many more will be doing so, taking in even higher concentrations of dangerous chemicals, once regulations such as the Clean Water Rule are ‘dealt with‘.
Slashing the EPA’s budget and workforce will be a disaster for human health in the country. But the Trump government seems more concerned with the financial interests of industry and the 1% rather than whether everyone else is sick from dirty water or toxic fumes.
– Check out more articles from The Canary’s Environment section.
Featured image via Flickr