EPA chief tries (and fails) to defend massive budget cuts for his agency

In nearly two hours of testimony before a House appropriations subcommittee, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt didn’t discuss a single idea for protecting our air, water, and lands from pollution, or defending public health, or fighting the growing dangers of climate change. He focused, instead, on plans to gut the budget and slash the staff of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, roll back protections for clean air and water, and renege on the country’s global commitments to cut the carbon pollution that imperils the planet.

Pruitt never directly discussed climate change, beyond defending President Trump’s reckless decision to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement and vowing to dismantle the single-most important measure we’ve taken to address the problem: the Clean Power Plan, which would lower pollution from the dirty power plants that account for 40 percent of the nation’s carbon footprint. In fact, Pruitt spent so much time talking about coal, gas, and oil, you might have thought he was the Secretary of Energy—though he refused to acknowledge wind and solar power, which has given the country two-thirds of its new electric generating capacity in the past two years.

Trump’s controversial budget proposal would cut the EPA’s funding by nearly a third—31 percent—despite more than $2 billion in cuts to the agency’s budget since 2010. Yet Pruitt declared: “I believe we can fulfill the mission of the agency with a trim budget.” Fortunately, lawmakers weren’t buying it. As one Democratic congressman told Pruitt during the hearing, the new budget is simply “indefensible” and a Republican congressman said such a severely slashed EPA would be “untenable.” Indeed, legislators on both sides of the aisle recognize that Trump’s attack on the EPA threatens our environment, our health, and our economy.


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