We’ve known for a while that Trump’s presidency will be terrible for the EPA, and therefore terrible for the environment and people who live on this planet. But what I learned this week tells me it will be even worse than we feared.
On Monday, leaked documents appeared in the media detailing Trump’s plans for gutting the EPA. I wanted to see what programs were being cut, because I knew the cuts were likely going to affect real people’s lives in a serious way. The leaked documents were called an “EPA Action Plan,” but what I found is more of a war on the EPA.
This is no exaggeration: the Trump transition team is being called the Beachhead team, like a military force landing in enemy territory, and that’s how Trump’s team is treating the EPA. The right-wing think tank Competitive Enterprise Institute, whose own Myron Ebell planned much of this gutting of the agency, is funded by the Koch brothers, among other corporate interests.
I started my investigation by looking at the state and tribal assistance grants. The cuts include about 44% of these grants, which help states and tribes implement programs to protect their people from pollution and environmental harm. The programs that will likely be cut include:
- Programs for safe drinking water. All states besides Wyoming and D.C. get grants from the EPA to make sure your public drinking water is safe and that they’re regulating and testing for potentially unsafe chemicals that can be found in drinking water.
- Safe beaches. EPA grants also help states make sure their beaches are safe for people to swim at. This includes testing for water quality, especially at beaches near cities where sewage can contaminate the water. Maine and Erie County, Pennsylvania have recently taken advantage of these grants.
- Radon programs. Radon is a radioactive gas, a major cause of lung cancer, that’s often found in people’s basements. EPA gives grants to states and tribes to educate people about radon and how to address radon problems in their homes.
- Brownfields. This grant program helps states deal with polluted sites, like abandoned factories and chemical spill sites, before allowing the land to be used for other purposes like housing or playgrounds.
- Climate change and sustainability. We can also expect cuts to any program that deals with climate change mitigation, sustainable living or smart growth programs, like programs that encourage communities to build new developments where people can live and work near public transit.
These programs do real good, protecting not only the environment but people’s health. The fact they are on the chopping block is alarming.
Food & Water Watch was often critical of EPA under the Obama administration. We felt that many of their decisions, like their policies around fracking, did not go far enough. But EPA has always done a great deal of good, and now we’re moving into a new period where much of that good work has been eliminated. The agency will likely be led by Scott Pruitt, a man who has publicly prided himself on working with the oil and gas industry to challenge the EPA. Now, he’s likely to run it. We expect to see massive firings at the agency, and most disturbingly, we learned this week that EPA is no longer allowed to communicate with the public: they can’t use social media, send out press releases, or talk to reporters.
Trump is waging an all-out war on EPA that’s going to hurt all of us. But I promise that we are going to resist every step of the way, exposing the truth about the Trump Administration’s dangerous decisions and making sure they feel pressure from the people whose lives they’re harming. I hope you’ll stand with us. Donate to defend the EPA from Trump.