TRUMP'S WAR ON THE EPA (AND US LIBERALS AND PROGRESSIVES)
THE EPA COMES UNDER THE KNIFE AS NEVER BEFORE
When I first moved to Washington, D.C. in the mid 1960’s, there were signs posted along the banks of the Potomac Rive just behind the Lincoln Memorial that banned not only swimming in the river but fishing as well. You could be fined for doing either the water was so polluted. With all the logs, trash and dead fish floating on the surface, I wasn’t sure who it was that might have thought “AH! Perfect place for a dip.” At the time, air, land and water pollution were often considered the unavoidable costs of doing business and making things. Poisonous industrial wastes from the manufacturing operations of such corporations as Dow Chemical, Monsanto, and Kodak flowed freely into rivers, lakes and streams. Watersheds became poisoned from the dumping of industrial wastes into massive land fills (garbage dumps) thereby also poisoning the folks who drank water pulled from underground. The Love Canal in Buffalo, NY (Niagara Falls) was one of the most dire of such calamities. Here’s a newspaper headline when the extent of the poisoning was discovered:
NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y.--Twenty five years after the Hooker Chemical Company stopped using the Love Canal here as an industrial dump, 82 different compounds, 11 of them suspected carcinogens, have been percolating upward through the soil, their drum containers rotting and leaching their contents into the backyards and basements of 100 homes and a public school built on the banks of the canal.
But what this headline doesn’t reveal is the high number of birth defects, miscarriages and cases of leukemia that Love Canal residents experienced. The Environmental Protection Agency had been established in 1970 some years before this article was published and the Love Canal tragedy captured the imagination of the public.
Since its establishment in 1970, the EPA has been the prime agency that has cleaned up America’s air, water and land. No other Federal, State or local governmental operation comes anywhere near close to the progress the EPA has made in cleaning up America. And make no mistake, if you are too young to have lived through the 50’s and 60’s, when virtually every lake, river and stream in the country was full of poisons, our dirty air was causing respiratory illnesses, and our land served as a vast garbage dump, you won’t have a clear picture of what a disaster it was. The reality was probably much worse than you are imaging here in 2017. Through new regulations, targeted remediation, massive cleanup efforts, fines and legal actions, the EPA has almost single handedly turned the entire nation’s environment from a cost free national dumping ground for corporate and municipal polluters into a nearly pristine landscape worthy of being called America’s land, water and air treasury.
But along comes one orange haired bobble headed dashboard doll to destroy the EPA. The President of the United States of America. Think I’m exaggerating? Here’s a partial list of Trump’s proposed EPA cuts:
1. San Francisco Bay cleanup: 100% cut
2. Great Lakes Restoration Project: 97% cut
3. Environmental Education Programs : 94% cut
4. Chesapeake Bay Cleanup: 93& cut
5. U.S. – Mexico Border Watershed: 100% cut
6. Beach Water Testing Grants: 100% cut
7. Radon Testing Grants: 100% cut
8. Puget Sound Cleanup: 93% cut
9. Environmental Justice Project: 78% cut
10. Diesel Emissions Grants: 100% cut
11. Small Minority Business Assistance: 76% cut
12. Climate Protection Project: 69% cut
These are a dozen out of more than 40 EPA budget cuts proposed by the Trump Administration. The rest range in cuts from 29% up to 60%. As far as I can see, there is no rational justification for such deep cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency other than allowing corporations to re-pollute and re-poison America (to reduce THEIR costs) and to let liberals and progressives know that the Trump Administration sees us as traitors. It’s really as simple as this.
Today the Potomac River is clean again and has been for about twenty years or more. Swimming and fishing are again permitted with no restrictions. That’s what progress is all about. Pittsburgh is no longer shrouded in a deadly atmosphere poisoned by industrial polluters. Los Angeles no longer has crippling smog days. The Cuyahoga River is no longer burning from the chemicals poured into the river by industry. The Love Canal? Eventually the Federal Government had to relocate the 800 families who lived there to other areas.
There is absolutely no reason to allow our air, water and land to be desecrated again by any actor or agency. It just doesn’t make sense. Take Trump’s elimination of the ban against the extraction industry from dumping their wastes into our lakes, rivers and streams. What is the up side? New jobs? I suppose so, cleaning up the mess that the extractors will make, but this isn’t going to happen for many years since it will take years to re-pollute, then more years to re-discover that corporations are freely dumping wastes again, and then even more years for corrective actions to take hold. And this makes any kind of sense whatsoever? The EPA has been the favorite “bête-noir” of Federal Agencies among conservatives because the EPA – they claim - stifles business. Perhaps. I’m sure there is some dampening and extra costs associated with clean air, water and land. But then the other side of this equation is the dangerous effects polluted air, water and land has upon real people. We know this from our history. Why would we want to repeat it? What we are seeing is simply revenge. Revenge against progress. I guess the problem for Trump and our corporations is that clean air, clean water and clean land is a liberal thing, just as the right wing has characterized it.
Do you want to live like this again?
Why would anyone – Trump, Republicans, Conservatives or Corporations – want to repeat such a disaster?