Two sources of Earth Day inspiration for me today.
First, it was a cool and rainy day in Washington, but tens of thousands showed up anyway to March for Science. As in dozens of other cities, towns, and research stations on every continent.
What do we want? Evidence-based science! When do we want it? After peer review! And other nerdy but inspiring signs and slogans.
Powerful pushback against those in power (for a while) who have no regard for facts, data, and evidence when they call for action that offends plutocrats and polluters.
And second, being a policy nerd myself, I took a look today at the public comments coming in on EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s call for “public input” on EPA “regulations that may be appropriate for repeal, replacement, or modification.”
Pruitt, you see, is following orders to implement President Trump’s Executive Order 13777―which talks about “lowering regulatory burdens” that “inhibit job creation” and “impose costs that exceed benefits.”
Trump and Pruitt may have hoped ordinary Americans would come pouring out with lists of onerous and pointless environmental regulations strangling the economy. Send us your list of rules to roll back!
Not happening. As of today, nearly 5,500 people have submitted their comments, and some 2,100 of which are posted online here.
What Scott Pruitt’s getting is another tremendous pushback, like today’s Marches―an outpouring of public support for EPA and its mission. For going forward with public health and environmental safeguards, not rolling them back.
InsideEPA read the first thousand or so. By 938 to 2, the comments supported keeping and strengthening EPA’s standards, not weakening them. “The comments are unique and do not appear to be part of a mass postcard campaign.” No, they are individual, personally-composed, and thoughtful.
I’ll bet Scott Pruitt will be surprised, if he deigns to read them. But he shouldn’t be. The Trump/Pruitt policies of climate-denial and EPA-bashing are hugely unpopular.
“Record percentages of Americans are concerned about global warming, believe it is occurring, consider it a serious threat and say it is caused by human activity,” according to Gallup.
54% of Americans give President Trump a “D” or an “F” on climate change (same score as on health care), in a new Politico-Morning Consult poll.
“Rolling back Obama-era regulations that address climate change” is opposed 52-32% and ranks as the most unpopular of nine Trump priorities, in an April CNBC poll.
I read a couple of hundred of the public comments, dipping in and out at random on regulations.gov. I couldn’t find more than a couple of fans of deregulation. In contrast, here’s a sample of Americans’ concern, anger, and resolution.
I remember Pittsburgh air in the 1950s, the filth that settled on cars and windows and into the rivers in just hours. I want the air, water and land cleaner for my grandkids than I had. Do not repeal the Clean Air Act or any other of the EPA environmental protection regulations that safeguard our country for future generations.
I doubt you could make this process more intimidating, but if I don't speak now I may never get another chance. I am writing as a consumer and a concerned great-aunt. Leave the existing regulations alone. I don't have a lot of money, but I am willing to put some of what I do possess into ensuring a livable environment for those who follow. I do not see such concern in the cuts being proposed. I see only greed.
It's not the earth I worry about. When it has been overtaxed it will simply shake us off like a wet dog shakes off water, and then heal itself for the next age. I'm worried about humans, and specifically those little humans like my great-nieces and nephews, who may one day look at this generation and say we are the generation who fouled the nest so completely no recovery was possible.
Stop interfering with the EPA's original mission, or step aside and let people who care about the welfare of the planet, and of humanity, continue its work.
One reason for government is to help the citizens collectively do things they cannot do as individuals. I do not have the ability to take on mega corporations to keep my air and water clean. The government does. Living in oil country I hear just how onerous regulations are. I also hear and see companies every day who would rather pay the fines than fix the problems that are causing them to be fined. I think the EPA needs more teeth, not fewer.
Environmental regulations are not junk in a basement. They are rules and agreements adopted and refined over time to allow industry to function while balancing the profit motive with the health, interests, and rights of the American people (by which I mean real people, not corporations). Those interests include clean water, clean air, and yes, protection from the costly impacts of human-caused climate change.
Please do not take our country backwards. Do not deny the work of scientists just because it doesn't align with some political agenda.
When I was growing up in Northwest Indiana, the air smelled foul, a haze hung in the air, and we dared not set foot in the polluted, filthy lake. The EPA changed all that. The lake is clean and the sky is blue. In April, 2017, a steel mill accidentally spilled a carcinogenic organometallic compound close to our beautiful lake. Thanks to EPA regs, they reported it and will clean it up. In the meantime, beaches are closed and at least one water drawing plant shut down. What if there were no EPA regulations? Since we share our Great Lakes with Canada, how would rolling back regs affect our friends to the north?
The Clean Power plan is not only about carbon emissions. It also limits pollutants that impact health through soot and smog. Cleaner air translates to fewer children with asthma, fewer days with smog warnings for those with compromised breathing, etc. Why allow more junk in our air? No one wants to breath tainted air.
Climate action aside, this plan makes living conditions better for Americans. Do I believe we need to limit emissions globally? Absolutely. We could do something now, or leave the entire burden (and perhaps consequences) for my children. I would much rather act now. Green and renewable energy has so much potential. Let's keep the Clean Power plan intact.
Please eliminate the EPA completely. Thanks! M. Rubio [I am fairly certain not.]
I'm sure the fossil fuel companies are happy about this. But I'm not. I much prefer to breathe clean air, drink clean water, and not have to worry about having to migrate due to climate change, thank you very much. Keep the EPA intact.
I grew up in New York and i remember the horrendous state of the air and water in the tri state area in the 70's and 80's the EPA is the reason the air and water are so much cleaner now to ignore science and abandon the regulations that have been enacted is a sin to all our children and grandchildren. We need this planet it's the only one we have.
Mr. Pruitt, do you know who will be responsible when people start dying from you gutting pollution-control laws and staff? YOU WILL.
Pretty inspiring to see Americans rise up for the Earth and the EPA.
The EPA is taking comments through May 15th. Click on the “Comment Now” button here and add YOUR voice. Tell Scott Pruitt to do his job.