While I see little hope of modernizing the environmental regulatory structure under the current regime, last week provided some hope that the U.S. Senate won’t allow our environmental laws to be dismantled.
There are places where EPA will fail the American people. But while state and local governments cannot perform all the functions that a national environmental agency can, visible local environmental and health impacts will lead mayors and governors to act.
Trump’s proposed budget includes an effort to shrink funding for university-based science research and the national labs run by the Department of Energy. Research on fundamental earth systems science is also cut as is funding for state environmental agencies and national environmental emergency response.
While federal support for new technology and infrastructure would be helpful, there is another approach that can also be effective. We should focus on modernizing our state and local energy systems. By modernizing the energy system we can reduce the costs and environmental impact of our energy use.
Until now, Administrator Pruitt has been an enemy of EPA, but he has a chance to change the narrative and demonstrate that his conservative principles are consistent with the goals of environmental protection. I hope he decides to save EPA and serve the American people.
Many schools are being tested for lead in their water. But what about the libraries, hospitals, offices and old apartment buildings? As I observe the new president and his EPA designee, I worry about the adverse effect deregulating environmental protection would have on our families. There is more work to do if we are to truly understand the impact of human technology on the environment and public health.
With the phrase “climate change” disappearing from U.S. federal government websites and increased talk of regulatory overreach, it is obvious that protecting the environment will continue to be a fault line in American political ideology. However, though ideology will shape the nature and speed of response, the environmental problem is real and cannot be ignored.
While many people around the world are concerned about President-elect Trump’s threat to withdraw from the Paris climate accord, I am far more concerned about the possible signal to American corporations and jurisdictions that enforcement of our air, water, and toxic rules would be relaxed under EPA’s new administrator.
If you had the experience of hearing Leon Billings teach and tell stories, it is hard to believe his voice is no longer with us. He was a great American and an important figure in American environmental history.
For those who favor strong action on climate change, the election of Donald Trump is creating plenty of anxiety and concern. Will Trump set our efforts to curb climate change back? How can those who are concerned about climate change best fight back?