Resist Trump’s Moves to Disembowel the EPA and Wreck the Environment
March 9, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Watch Bob Avakian: "Not Fit Caretakers of the Earth," a clip from the film Revolution: Why It's Necessary, Why It's Possible, What It's All About, a film of a talk by Bob Avakian given in 2003 in the United States.
Trump’s Attacks on Scientists and the Resistance
The Trump/Pence regime’s assault on the EPA and environmental protections goes along with an attack on scientists, in particular researchers on climate change and those charged with protecting the environment. Scientists at the EPA, the National Park Service and other government agencies have been silenced and had important public information scrubbed from websites, and they are now facing dramatic cuts that will throw many out of work or cut their funding so much that important work cannot be done. Things have gotten to the point where climate scientists have been furiously backing up their data on alternate computers for fear that Trump officials will simply wipe out decades of valuable work that is essential to understanding climate processes that are of grave concern to world humanity. This very real possibility of destruction of scientific work by Trump/Pence brings to mind the burning of books in Nazi Germany.
This fascist cabal’s attacks on science may be starting with environmental scientists, but it won’t end there. The Trumpites cannot stomach and will not accept a society where people probe reality and figure out what is true based on employing a critical scientific method that relies on evidence.* They are moving to beat down people’s ability to determine what is true, and instead impose a Trumpian universe of lies, doublespeak and unquestioned obedience to fascist authority. This cannot be allowed.
Important resistance among scientists is growing. Alternative “rogue” government websites have continued to publish facts in their fields and criticism of the regime via social media in defiance of White House media suppression. Scientists are speaking out against the Trump regime, its lies and attacks on science. For instance, climate scientist Michael Mann recently called Trump’s budget plan, with its cuts to EPA and NOAA, an “all-out assault on Earth.” A March for Science declaring “science not silence” has been called for Earth Day, April 22, and has spread worldwide
* One recent sharp example among others: Since January 30, the website of the EPA’s Office of Science and Technology, which has been until now charged with developing state clean water standards, has removed wording that it uses “science-based” standards to evaluate safe levels of pollutants and replaced it with “economically and technologically achievable standards.”
Sources inside the Trump regime are saying the White House has proposed deep cuts to the budget of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as part of Trump’s new budget plan. Reports are that EPA funding will be slashed by one-quarter and staff by one-fifth. Trump/Pence had already prohibited EPA officials from speaking to the press, frozen hiring, and scrubbed climate change information from the White House website. Now, these fascist know-nothings are moving to gut the EPA, whose job is supposed to be to safeguard the environment and people’s health.
Some of the EPA’s key official responsibilities include funding state safe drinking water and clean air programs, cleaning up toxic sites and spills, setting environmental health standards for water and air pollutants to protect people and fish, and limiting greenhouse gas pollution that is causing devastating transformations of the earth’s climate. To be clear, the EPA has always performed these measures in a limited way, seeking to enforce “safeguards” so they weren’t in fundamental conflict with U.S. capitalist-imperialist profit-making and global power. (For an example of this, see the revcom.us article “The Severe Danger of Neonic Pesticides to Bees”)
Still, the EPA’s actions since its founding in 1970 have meant some improvements in air pollution standards, limiting of environmental disasters like acid rain and DDT (pesticide) poisoning, and cutting lead from gasoline, etc. One important cause of these improvements was widespread exposure of, and mass resistance to, environmental destruction. And the positive changes that did occur happened against a backdrop of continuing environmental damage to waterways, habitat and wildlife. And in certain cases, such as greenhouse gas pollution causing climate change, the situation has actually gotten a lot worse since 1970.
But now, Trump and his allies would make things exponentially worse.
What the EPA Cuts Will Mean for the People
The EPA cuts include slashing things like funding for lead cleanup. This will mean more people poisoned, like the children in Flint, Michigan, some of whom have suffered long-term neurological damage. The cuts target funding to clean up toxic waste sites. This could mean that thousands of industrial sites containing toxic and radioactive waste will remain uncleaned—fouling water and land, harming people and the environment. The plan calls for slicing the grants that were planned to help Native American tribes protect members from pollution on their lands. Funding for enforcing pollution laws would also be cut, meaning many more kids would get sick with asthma. A 2013 Massachusetts Institute of Technology study showed that air pollution causes early deaths in 200,000 people each year in the United States. The number of early deaths would likely increase if the EPA and other environmental regulations are axed in this way.
Also hit will be funding countering the enormous danger of climate change, like a program to monitor the emissions of methane from the oil and gas industry. Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas, and the emissions of this gas are adding to the threat of irreversible damage from planetary warming.
Scott Pruitt, Trump’s Hatchet Man at the EPA
These cuts, tremendously damaging in their own right, are part of a larger campaign. Make no mistake, these proposals are just the beginning of moves to eviscerate the EPA and remove any limits on capitalist interests from plundering and ruining the environment.
Trump’s EPA head Scott Pruitt has been put in place to oversee this. Pruitt made his career as attorney general in Oklahoma by working to block and overturn environmental protections for clean water, regulations for safe mercury levels and steps to limit climate change. He sued the EPA 14 times, working as a hatchet man for huge capitalist fossil fuel interests, as documented by the release of thousands of his personal emails in late February. Trump rewarded these despicable acts of destruction by appointing him EPA chief, and the Republicans in Congress approved him.
At the recent Conservative Political Action Conference, Pruitt said that the Trump regime was going to roll back environmental regulations in an “aggressive way.” According to the Natural Resources Defense Council when a moderator asked the crowd at the conference to raise their hands if they hoped Pruitt would “just sort of make the EPA go away...Pruitt laughed and the crowd cheered.”
Opening Salvoes of a Savage War on the Environment
Trump’s proposed cuts to the EPA come on top of rule changes in just the last few weeks to allow coal mining interests to dump waste into streams, and an executive order to begin getting rid of the Clean Water rule, which was supposed to have protected drinking water and wetlands for 117 million people.
It has also been revealed that the regime plans a 17 percent slash of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) budget—cuts that would damage important research on climate change, tracking storms, and other environmental questions. Trump has already promised to eliminate Obama’s Clean Power Plan that would have cut greenhouse gas emissions by very modest amounts.
Other key environmental standards or laws, such as the Endangered Species Act, are also under the gun from the White House or Congress. All of this is occurring just in the first six weeks of the Trump/Pence regime. Imagine the horrors to unfold if this continues.
A March 5 New York Times article reported that the Trump regime is being flooded with requests by big capitalist business and lobbyists to slash all manner of regulations. These interests, the Times said, see with this administration a “potentially historic opportunity to lower compliance costs and drive up profits.” These attempts to implement unprecedented U.S. capitalist plundering and enshrinement of corporate enrichment and power are one key component of Trump/Pence’s overall fascist remaking of society that includes many other horrors.
This Revolution special issue focuses on the environmental emergency that now faces humanity and Earth’s ecosystems. In this issue we show:
- the dimensions of the emergency...
- the source of its causes in the capitalist system, and the impossibility of that system solving this crisis...
- a way out and way forward for humanity—a revolutionary society in which we could actually live as custodians of nature, rather than as its plunderers.
Also available in brochure format (downloadable PDF)
The reality is that this regime has launched the opening salvoes of a full-on savage war on the environment. If allowed to continue, their plan will be a complete nightmare for the planet and human well-being at a time of great ecological peril, when segments of the natural world are already unraveling.
Climate change and other related human-caused eco-destruction has humanity facing what some scientists call a threat to human survival. To point to just two sharp examples: It’s predicted that by 2050, 17 million people in Bangladesh will be displaced by rising sea levels, which are largely driven by the melt of polar ice caused by the planet being warmed due to burning of fossil fuels. This warming, which also is driving the acidification of seawater, is also dangerously impacting the world’s oceans. A recent study found that already the oxygen content of the oceans, which sea life needs to survive as do humans, has declined two percent due to warming. It’s been predicted that if warming continues as it is, by 2050 four-fifths of the oceans will be disrupted, threatening marine life that feeds one billion people.
The plans to drastically cut the EPA and destroy the environment are sickening and criminal. They must be met with much escalated, passionate and determined resistance, and joined with overall crescendoing resistance to this whole fascist regime that aims to drive them from power, in the name of humanity and to save the planet.
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