If the EPA isn’t allowed to use science, what’s left? Witch doctors? Oil company pimps?

Note: This is part four of a four-part series about the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The agency, its policies, and the science that underpins those regulations have been under scrutiny in recent weeks. In fact, the agency is in danger of being drastically cut back or dismantled entirely. You can learn more about that by reading part one, part two, and part three, as well viewing a gallery of photos of what America looked like in the early days of the EPA. This week, we’ll focus on where the EPA stands right now.

Nothing in this photo Trump doesn’t approve of – except the kid isn’t blonde

The Environmental Protection Agency is supposed to make and enforce regulations that protect the environment. But as the scientific agency seems to throw science out the window, it’s worth asking: what happens when the EPA stops putting our health and wellbeing first?

On April 2, 2007, the U.S. Supreme Court made a decision that was easy to miss…The 2007 case dates back to an earlier lawsuit, where Massachusetts sued the EPA for failing to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, which are known to contribute to climate change. Whether the EPA has such an obligation depends on how you interpret a specific clause of the Clean Air Act. The clause states that the EPA Administrator must set an emissions standard for any air pollutant “from any class or classes of new motor vehicles or new motor vehicle engines, which in his judgment cause, or contribute to, air pollution which may reasonably be anticipated to endanger public health or welfare.”…

In a 5-4 decision, the Court ruled that the EPA had to regulate greenhouse gas emissions unless it could prove that they did not endanger public welfare.

The EPA based its decision on more than 100 peer-reviewed studies and input from a public comment period. The summary reads, “The Administrator finds that the current and projected concentrations of the six key well-mixed greenhouse gases—carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), and sulfur hexafluoride (SF6)—in the atmosphere threaten the public health and welfare of current and future generations.”

Greenhouse gases are putting us at risk. Luckily, the EPA is obligated to limit their emission. That is, as long as the agency chooses to accept the facts.

Earlier this week, current EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said the following on CNBC: “I think that measuring with precision human activity on the climate is something very challenging to do and there’s tremendous disagreement about the degree of impact, so no, I would not agree that it’s a primary contributor to the global warming that we see.”

It was an odd (and incorrect) statement from the Administrator of the EPA, an agency that — based on the best available scientific evidence — disagrees with Pruitt’s position, as does NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the Center for Disease Control, the U.K.’s Met Office, and the Japan Meteorological Organization.

But, then, there’s nothing new about any of Trump’s appointed flunkies acting like anything other than pimps for the worst corporate barons in American capitalism. It may seem like he’s only carrying on the strongest traditions from previous Republican Administrations – but, that wouldn’t be true, either.

Trump is so confident of the backing of the chumps who voted him into office he has permission to skip over the soft rationales of most Big-C Conservatives and go straight into his repertoire of bald-faced lies, made-up data, alternative truth. Flunkies like Pruitt did this for years back in Oklahoma. Oil and gas companies would write rules and regulations allowing pollution for him to cut-and-paste into official government policy.

They deserve each other. So do the ignoranuses who voted them into national office. Trouble is – the rest of us are stuck with the results of their ignorance and corruption. Until and unless we fight back – and hard enough to win.

11 thoughts on “If the EPA isn’t allowed to use science, what’s left? Witch doctors? Oil company pimps?

  1. Puzzling Evidence™ says:

    ● “Trump admin puts EPA climate science debate plan ‘on hold’” http://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/365104-trump-admin-puts-epa-climate-science-debate-plan-on-hold
    ● “Black sewage came spewing out of multiple drinking water fountains at the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) headquarters on Thursday morning.” (includes photo) http://www.newsweek.com/photo-shows-black-sewage-spewing-epa-water-fountain-750112 “Yesterday, President Trump touted his desire to return to 1960-like regulations. EPA water fountain showing off world w/o Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act and Safe Drinking Water Act, all enacted between 1963 and 1974,” one Twitter user wrote.
    ● “Using taxpayer dollars (and a no-bid $120,000 contract), the Environmental Protection Agency has hired a cutting-edge Republican PR firm that specializes in digging up opposition research to help Administrator Scott Pruitt’s office track and shape press coverage of the agency.” https://newrepublic.com/article/146308/epa-using-taxpayer-dollars-track-press
    ● “Trump environmental officials are keeping tight rein over stampede of FOIA requests’ https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/wp/2017/12/15/trump-environmental-officials-are-keeping-tight-rein-over-stampede-of-foia-requests/
    ● “The Environmental Protection Agency is refusing to say whether President Donald Trump’s failed pick to oversee chemical safety will continue to work there as a senior adviser, a role that doesn’t require Senate confirmation.” http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/wireStory/epa-mum-failed-trump-nominee-job-51793157
    ● “Scott Pruitt and a crew of EPA aides just spent four days in Morocco promoting natural gas” https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2017/12/13/scott-pruitt-and-a-crew-of-epa-aides-just-spent-four-days-in-morocco-promoting-natural-gas/ The purpose of the trip sparked questions from environmental groups, Democratic lawmakers and some industry experts, who noted that EPA plays no formal role in overseeing natural gas exports. Such activities are overseen primarily by the Energy Department and Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

  2. Cassandra says:

    “More than 700 people have left the Environmental Protection Agency since President Donald Trump took office, a wave of departures that puts the administration nearly a quarter of the way toward its goal of shrinking the agency to levels last seen during the Reagan administration.
    Of the employees who have quit, retired or taken a buyout package since the beginning of the year, more than 200 are scientists. An additional 96 are environmental protection specialists, a broad category that includes scientists as well as others experienced in investigating and analyzing pollution levels. Nine department directors have departed the agency as well as dozens of attorneys and program managers. Most of the employees who have left are not being replaced.” (ProPublica/New York Times Dec 22, 2017)
    “What It’s Like Inside the Trump Administration’s Regulatory Rollback at the EPA : The fate of a rule more than a decade in the making is a microcosm of larger changes afoot.” (https://www.propublica.org/article/inside-trump-regulatory-rollback-epa 12/18/17)

  3. C-137 says:

    Attorneys for the Trump administration are asking a court to dismiss a lawsuit challenging Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) head Scott Pruitt’s new policy on science advisers.
    Justice Department attorneys argued that Pruitt’s policy preventing EPA grant recipients from serving on external advisory committees is well within government ethics rules and Pruitt’s authority to pick his own advisers.
    “Plaintiffs make the extraordinary claim that the EPA’s effort to ensure a diversity of viewpoints on advisory committees that provide advice and recommendations to the administrator somehow violates government-wide ethics rules. But the directive that plaintiffs challenge does no such thing,” the government wrote in a motion filed late Friday.
    Lawyers further argued that the directive is not intended to change ethics rules, but is instead merely “a general statement of policy that describes the appointment philosophy EPA will apply regarding the federal advisory committees it administers.” http://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/377921-trump-admin-wants-case-over-epa-science-advisers-dismissed

  4. Aura says:

    “A prominent GOP donor and President Donald Trump supporter helped EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt choose the head of the influential scientific body charged with reviewing EPA’s regulations, according to newly released documents.” https://www.politico.com/story/2018/06/08/doug-deason-trump-donor-helped-pruitt-pick-epa-science-advisers-603450
    “Doug Deason, a Dallas businessman, submitted a list of names of candidates for Pruitt’s Science Advisory Board in August that had been supplied by the conservative Texas Public Policy Foundation, on whose board he serves. Deason and his father, Darwin Deason, donated over $900,000 in 2016 alone to help elect Trump and other Republican candidates. His influence over the SAB appointments is the latest example of the high-level access that politically powerful conservatives have to the EPA administrator. Deason is known to be a friend of Pruitt’s. Deason and his wife have also been donors to the Koch brothers’ network of organizations that raise money for Republicans running for state and national office.”

  5. Error 404 says:

    “E.P.A. to Eliminate Office That Advises Agency Chief on Science” (NYT 9/27/18) https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/27/climate/epa-science-adviser.html
    The Environmental Protection Agency plans to dissolve its Office of the Science Advisor, whose role is to make sure sound science is used throughout the agency. Under the Trump administration, a spate of events—including the proposal of a controversial “secret science” rule—has led to concerns that the EPA and other government agencies are seeking to limit the use of scientific research in their policy-making. An EPA spokesman told the Times that the decision to get rid of this position would “eliminate redundancies.”

  6. Moloch says:

    “EPA excluded its own top science officials when it rewrote rules on using scientific studies” (Washington Post 10/3/18) https://www.washingtonpost.com/energy-environment/2018/10/03/epa-excluded-its-own-top-science-officials-when-it-rewrote-rules-using-scientific-studies/?utm_term=.fbb547cc502e “It’s astounding that the EPA science adviser’s office was left completely out of the loop during the development of a major science policy proposal,” said Michael Halpern, deputy director of the center for science and democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists. “Crafting any significant proposal behind closed doors without even bothering to notify career scientific staff suggests that it’s much more about politics than it is about science.”
    In a statement, the agency countered that “EPA received input from a number of stakeholders and utilized the intra and interagency process to ensure a robust proposal was put forward.”

  7. Science be damned says:

    EPA still moving to limit science used to support regulations : Draft published by New York Times expands on version started under Scott Pruitt. https://arstechnica.com/science/2019/11/epa-still-moving-to-limit-science-used-to-support-regulations/
    “The Trump administration is preparing to significantly limit the scientific and medical research that the government can use to determine public health regulations, overriding protests from scientists and physicians who say the new rule would undermine the scientific underpinnings of government policymaking.
    A new draft of the Environmental Protection Agency proposal, titled Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science, would require that scientists disclose all of their raw data, including confidential medical records, before the agency could consider an academic study’s conclusions. E.P.A. officials called the plan a step toward transparency and said the disclosure of raw data would allow conclusions to be verified independently. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/11/climate/epa-science-trump.html

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