Mother Nature Holds Her Breath: Will the EPA Do the Right Thing?

July 16, 2018 0 Comments

Mother Nature Holds Her Breath: Will the EPA Do the Right Thing?

(This is a political post. If you don’t want to read it, please enjoy my other posts!)

It’s Hotter Than Hades

I’m holed up in my house these afternoons here in Boise, trying to avoid the 100+ degree temperatures that are wilting and crisping up the leaves of my perennials.

I’ve got a lot of drought-tolerant plants but fortunately my Shasta Daisies, Fleabane, Agastache and Gaillardia are hanging in there.

Thriving Shasta Daisies, Fleabane and Gaillardia

image of shasta daisies

Yes, I Believe 95% of the World's Scientists

I know that one summer doesn’t provide evidence of climate change. I don’t base my belief in the science of global warming on snapshots in time. I look to experts on that. This from NASA:

The current warming trend is of particular significance because most of it is extremely likely (greater than 95 percent probability) to be the result of human activity since the mid-20th century and proceeding at a rate that is unprecedented over decades to millennia.

Ding Dong the Witch is Dead

Like a lot of people who accept climate change science, I breathed a huge sigh of relief when Scott Pruitt, EPA’s administrator, resigned.

Pruitt’s appointment was all about undoing the science-based rational regulations that previous presidents had implemented to protect people and the environment from pollutants and the effects of carbon emissions on the environment. Pruitt's tenure had the effect of taking giant steps backward.

Among Pruitt's actions:

  • Urged Trump to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement.
  • Opposed the Clean Power Plan that limits the amount of carbon pollution that new or existing power plants can produce.
  • Opposed fuel emission standards for cars and light duty trucks that would take effect between 2022 and 2025.
  • During his tenure, approved about 24 regulatory rollbacks.
  • Cut EPA’s budget by 30%.
  • Ordered a delay of a new regulation on methane leaks. Fortunately, judges found Pruitt’s order in violation of the Clean Air Act.
  • Denied a petition from the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Pesticide Action Network North America calling for a ban of the pesticide chlorpyrifos. EPA scientists found that there is no safe level of exposure to this toxin.
  • Suspended the Clean Water Rule for two years while he considered a formal repeal. This rule limits potential runoff pollution of fertilizers and pesticides.
  • Ignored counties who should be paying fines for failing to meet new ozone standards.
  • Failed to push regulations on dangerous solvents like methylene chloride.
  • Pushed back implementation of new safety procedures at chemical plants.
  • Slowed down efforts of the EPA to catch violators of laws like the Clean Water Act.

Mother Nature would like to breathe a sigh of relief, but the agency’s acting chief, Andrew Wheeler, may not be any better. A former coal lobbyist, he's a skeptic when it comes to climate change science. He's not paying attention to 97% of actively publishing climate scientists who agree that climate-warming trends over the past century are extremely likely due to human activities. Gee, he's smarter than they are, I guess.

He could undo U.S. efforts toward clean-energy research and implementation. Fortunately, however, a bipartisan legislative body, the Senate Committee on Appropriations pushed back against massive funding cuts to clean energy projects and proposed a FY18 budget $4 billion higher than Trump’s Department of Energy budget. By a vote of 38 to 1, the committee defended federal government action in all phases of clean energy development.

Conclusion? There May Be No Conclusion Yet

I’m almost always a glass-half-full kind of person. I try to stay optimistic about everything from my garden disasters to growing older. So all I can hope for now is that we’re not:

Out of the frying pan and into the fire.

How about you? Are you trying to stay optimistic about the future of the EPA?

Links

PBS article on EPA under Pruitt

Vox.com article on EPA under Pruitt

Scientific American article about Pruitt's resignation

The Conversation article on what's next for the EPA 

 





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