Wednesday, March 8, 2017

A Hostile Agency Environment

Trump regime EPA head Scott Pruitt is wasting no time stocking the top positions at the agency with GOP's leading climate change skeptics, and the damage they will cause future generations will be incalculable.

Mr. Pruitt has drawn heavily from the staff of his friend and fellow Oklahoma Republican, Senator James Inhofe, long known as Congress’s most prominent skeptic of climate science. A former Inhofe chief of staff, Ryan Jackson, will be Mr. Pruitt’s chief of staff. Another former Inhofe staff member, Byron Brown, will serve as Mr. Jackson’s deputy. Andrew Wheeler, a fossil fuel lobbyist and a former Inhofe chief of staff, is a finalist to be Mr. Pruitt’s deputy, although he requires confirmation to the position by the Senate.

To friends and critics, Mr. Pruitt seems intent on building an E.P.A. leadership that is fundamentally at odds with the career officials, scientists and employees who carry out the agency’s missions. That might be a recipe for strife and gridlock at the federal agency tasked to keep safe the nation’s clean air and water while safeguarding the planet’s future. 
“He’s the most different kind of E.P.A. administrator that’s ever been,” said Steve J. Milloy, a member of the E.P.A. transition team who runs the website, which aims to debunk climate change. “He’s not coming in thinking E.P.A. is the greatest thing since sliced bread. Quite the opposite.” 
Gina McCarthy, who headed the E.P.A. under former President Barack Obama, said she too saw Mr. Pruitt as unique. “It’s fine to have differing opinions on how to meet the mission of the agency. Many Republican administrators have had that,” she said. “But here, for the first time, I see someone who has no commitment to the mission of the agency.” 

Pruitt is determined to turn the EPA into an Orwellian dark comedy, an agency that cares nothing for protecting the environment and in fact will be dedicated to exploiting it for corporate gain at every opportunity, not to mention putting the health and well-being of millions of Americans at risk. But it gets worse.

A pair of Trump campaigners from Washington State are also heading into senior positions at the E.P.A. Don Benton, a former Washington state senator who headed President Trump’s state campaign, will be the agency’s senior liaison with the White House. Douglas Ericksen, a current Washington state senator, is being considered as the regional administrator of the E.P.A.’s Pacific Northwest office. 
As a state senator, Mr. Ericksen has been active in opposing efforts to pass a state-level climate change law taxing carbon pollution. Last month, he invited Tony Heller, a climate denialist who blogs under the pseudonym Steven Goddard, to address a Washington State Senate committee on the costs of climate change policy. Mr. Heller’s blog says “global warming is the biggest fraud in science history.” 
“I think the reason both of these guys are being considered for this stuff is they were the only prominent elected officials in the state of Washington that were early supporters and organizers for Trump,” said Todd Donovan, a political scientist at Western Washington University. “No other state legislators were putting their necks out for Trump.”

On top of the EPA now being a joke, it's now a plum bureaucratic reward for those Republicans who jumped on the Trump train early in order to make big government paychecks at taxpayer expense. But that's the party of fiscal responsibility for you, right?  Ahh, but here's the fun part:

The agency’s policy agenda is snapping into focus: Last week, Mr. Trump signed an executive order directing Mr. Pruitt to begin the legal process of dismantling a major Obama-era regulation aimed at increasing the federal government’s authority over rivers, streams and wetlands in order to prevent water pollution. Also last week, Mr. Pruitt ordered the agency to walk back a program on collecting data on methane emissions, a potent greenhouse gas, from oil and gas wells. 
This week, Mr. Trump is expected to sign an executive order directing Mr. Pruitt to begin the legal process of unwinding Mr. Obama’s E.P.A. regulations aimed at curbing planet-warming pollution from coal-fired power plants, and Mr. Pruitt is expected to announce plans to begin to weaken an Obama-era rule mandating higher fuel economy standards. 
A draft White House budget blueprint proposes to slash the E.P.A. budget by about 24 percent, or $2 billion from its current level of $8.1 billion, and cut employee numbers by about 20 percent from its current staff of about 15,000. 
Agency employees say morale has already been damaged. After working for years to draft climate change regulations under the Obama administration, many of those same career scientists and lawyers will be ordered to go back and undo them.

Undoing the entire Obama environmental agenda was always a chief goal of the GOP, and now it looks like they will completely erase 44's entire legacy on climate change and the environment.  All of it, gone.  But her emails, right?

I don't think our grandkids will forgive us, either. New tag, as I expect I'll be writing a lot about his crimes against the planet: Scott Pruitt.

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