We the people must save the EPA

Trump freezes state EPA grants and contracts
Trump freezes state EPA grants and contracts

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Trump freezes state EPA grants and contracts 02:12

Story highlights

  • Michael Brune: This assault on scientific truth must not go unanswered
  • Americans faced by an unprecedentedly anti-environmental Congress and an administration that is out to gut the EPA, he says

Michael Brune is the executive director of the Sierra Club. The views expressed in this commentary are his own.

(CNN)It's no surprise that candidate Donald Trump's disdain for the truth has carried over into his presidency, with its Orwellian embrace of "alternative facts." Nor should we be shocked that his claim that he is "to a large extent, an environmentalist" has been brutally refuted by every action he's taken since he won the election. Rich fossil fuel executives surely felt like they won the lottery last November.

Slightly harder to anticipate, though, was how swiftly the Trump administration would betray ordinary Americans -- none of whom voted to "Make America Polluted Again" -- and how rapidly its reckless actions would lead our nation down a dark and dangerous path of hostility to science, reason and evidence.
Michael Brune
Both of those developments are chillingly confirmed by the administration's attacks on the Environmental Protection Agency. Reports that the administration would demand that the EPA delete all information about climate change from its website were rightly met with outrage. Steve Bannon may as well have started a coal-fueled bonfire on the White House lawn and begun flinging scientific reports into the flames.
    The Trump administration's assaults on science are as brazen as they are unconscionable, and they must not go unanswered. Some brave and principled scientists and researchers at the EPA, and in other parts of our government, will surely resist, but the burden of defending respect for the truth should not rest solely on their shoulders. The opposition to this dark curtain of ignorance and denial is the responsibility of every American, regardless of party, who respects knowledge and values the truth.
    The sad irony, of course, is that President Trump's perverse brand of populism not only disregards the wishes of American voters but deliberately renounces their health and safety, which is already coming as a rude shock to many who voted for him.
    Ex-EPA chief: We must keep protecting environment
    Ex-EPA chief: We must keep protecting environment

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      Ex-EPA chief: We must keep protecting environment

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    Ex-EPA chief: We must keep protecting environment 09:59
    A poll of American voters conducted in December and released last week by the progressive organization, the Center for American Progress, found not only broad support for environmental protection and clean energy versus fossil fuels, but also deep concern about the consequences of anti-environmental proposals. Four in five voters are worried about drinking contaminated water and the release of hazardous chemicals, while nearly three in four voters are afraid that air pollution will increase.
    Unfortunately, those fears are well-founded if President Trump and his advisors succeed in gutting, muzzling and defunding the EPA (which is clearly their aim -- why else nominate Scott Pruitt, who has made a career out of attacking the agency, to lead it?).
    Since its creation more than 50 years ago, the EPA's mission has been clear: to protect us from dangerous pollution. That's not just about making our skies bluer and our waters cleaner -- it's a matter of life and death. The Clean Air Act alone has saved millions of lives. The Clean Power Plan that President Trump is so anxious to kill would save thousands of lives (and tens of billions of dollars in healthcare costs) annually, according to the EPA. You can read all about it on the agency's website -- but you better be sure to do so before the Trump administration's dark curtain descends.
    Presidents have attacked the EPA before and, for the most part, they have only managed to temporarily slow or halt the agency's work. In the past, both Congress and the courts have had the EPA's back.
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    Today, we have an unprecedentedly anti-environmental Congress and face uncertainty about a new Supreme Court justice. So, it's more important than ever that everyone who cares about clean air, clean water and a stable climate is heard loud and clear, and that they take this fight to the streets, to their communities and to Congress.
    If we do not rise to defend those whose job it is to protect us, then it will be more than a website that goes dark.