Attacks on EPA, Environment Prompt Outcry at Town Halls

President Donald Trump plans to beef up military spending by draining the budgets of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and other federal departments, according to the New York Times.

But if last week’s town hall meetings are any indication, weakening the nation’s foremost protector of clean air, water and climate won’t sit well with constituents.

All across the country, people challenged their elected representatives over attacks on the EPA and environmental protection in general.

Possibly the most exciting one took place in Florida, where angry constituents yelled at and booed Congressman Matt Gaetz of Florida for his proposal to abolish the EPA. Asked about the bill, Gaetz said "I'm going to fight for the environment and against the EPA," which didn’t sit well with the crowd whose response included yells of "Shame on you!" See it below or here.

Up the coast in Virginia, Representative Dave Brat also got boos over his environmental views at his town hall meeting. According to E&E News, Brat’s attitude on the environment draw the crowd’s ire.

Rich people, it turns out, like clean air and clean water," said Brat, tying a safe environment to a strong economy. Boos quickly drowned out the congressman…"Do most of you want to be poor, or do you want to be rich?" Brat asked, to which someone yelled: "We want clean water!"

And as the Richmond Times reported, Brat did just as poorly in his response on climate change.

Brat was asked if he denies climate change. “No, the climate changes all the time,” he replied. Many in the crowd booed. 

Further north, in upstate New York, Congressman Tom Reed faced a boisterous crowd. According to Buffalo News, that included a “10-year-old girl who asked if he wanted to disband the Environmental Protection Agency,” a question which produced “massive applause."

These aren’t the only examples. Representatives Elise Stefanik, Dave Schweikert, and Leonard Lance faced questions about their support for the Environmental Protection Agency and climate change. And even in the heartland, at Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley’s town hall,

one woman apparently touched a collective nerve when she criticized Trump's plans to revoke Obama-era environmental protections. "Why is the GOP being so mean to its citizens and to this country, with its proposal to rape the Earth?" she demanded as the room erupted in applause.

So, fair warning: It's a good bet that if you are one of the elected officials going after the EPA, clean air and water, or a safe climate, your constituents are going to have something to say about it. 

Note: for ideas and tips on how to get your views across to your representatives in Congress, check out these helpful resources: the Indivisible Guide, The Town Hall Project, and Women's March on Washington.

About the Authors

Pete Altman

Director of Federal Campaigns

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