Written By Stevie Walker
When you pull up the Environmental Protection Agency’s website, one of the first things you see is their slogan: “protecting human health and the environment”. Established in 1970 with the purpose of monitoring the state of our environment and setting standards to ensure environmental protection, the EPA helps preserve our nation’s natural resources for generations to come. With the arrival of the Trump administration, the EPA’s ability to live by its slogan could be seriously jeopardized, as could the ability of the EPA to live at all.
The EPA’s budget, ability to regulate, and ability to enforce laws are under major risk with new leadership from the Trump administration. In his potential budget plan, President Trump recently announced that he will cut the EPA’s budget by nearly a quarter: from $8.1 billion to $6.1 billion. Along with massive cuts, Trump has proposed cutting the EPA workforce from 15,000 employees to 12,000 employees. These cuts would strip the EPA of much of its regulatory power, allowing the agency to only perform basic functions. From lowering emission standards to deregulating pesticide usage, the effects of defunding the EPA would be devastating.
Under the Obama administration, a historic policy was implemented to combat air pollution and climate change. The Clean Power Act is a primary example of pivotal legislation that could be revoked under the Trump administration. It sets lower standards for carbon emissions for power plants and individualized goals for the carbon emissions of each state. It promotes the use of clean energy sources, yet despite all of these positive effects, it is at risk of being totally undermined. Newly confirmed EPA Administrator, Scott Pruitt, wants to do away with many of the EPA’s current pollution regulations.
In fact, Pruitt has said that dismantling the EPA altogether would be “justified” because of actions taken during the Obama administration. The former Oklahoma attorney general, who does not believe in climate change, has sued the Environmental Protection Agency 13 times over various water and air regulations. Lobbyists connected with major fossil fuel companies such as ExxonMobil and the Koch Industries have been avid supporters of Pruitt since 2002, giving him over $300,000 in fossil fuel related contributions. How could Pruitt head the agency whose primary goal is protecting the environment when, for the entirety of his political career, he has been trying to destroy it?
If the proposed budget and staffing cuts go into effect, the agency that is responsible for protecting the environment we live in and providing us with clean water and air could be rendered useless. It is vital that we speak out against what Scott Pruitt and the Trump administration have in store for the EPA. Without the EPA being able to do its job of “protecting human health and the environment”, the world we live in would be a very different place.