Friday, February 17, 2017

A Republican Senator Votes "NO" For EPA Nominee Scott Pruitt For The Environment?

The republican party typically is the first party to back big business by lowering regulations to make business run more smoothly.  Any obstacle in the form of an 'environmental regulation' is thought of as a pain in the rear end.  Climate change is still under debate to most members of the republican party contrary to the 97% of Scientists who confirm that climate change is real.

With this information in hand, why would any republican senator deny President Trump his nominee for the position to head the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)?

To understand the answer to the question, first the mission of the EPA should be known. Second, the letter of reasoning should be made known by the Senator.  These are shown below.

EPA Mission

The mission of the Environmental Protection Agency is stated on the website '' as the following:

The mission of EPA is to protect human health and the environment.
EPA's purpose is to ensure that:
- all Americans are protected from significant risks to human health and the environment where they live, learn and work;
- national efforts to reduce environmental risk are based on the best available scientific information;
- federal laws protecting human health and the environment are enforced fairly and effectively;
- environmental protection is an integral consideration in U.S. policies concerning natural resources, human health, economic growth, energy, transportation, agriculture, industry, and international trade, and these factors are similarly considered in establishing environmental policy;
- all parts of society -- communities, individuals, businesses, and state, local and tribal governments -- have access to accurate information sufficient to effectively participate in managing human health and environmental risks;
- environmental protection contributes to making our communities and ecosystems diverse, sustainable and economically productive; and
- the United States plays a leadership role in working with other nations to protect the global environment.

Upon inspection of the stated mission, the EPA has a big job to do in order to keep our environment clean and healthy for the citizens of the world.  I say world since the air we breath as Americans is eventually cycled to other countries like China, India, and Russia.  Therefore, in keeping our environment clean here in the United States, our country is setting an example for the rest of the world.

The mission is broken down into bullet points above.  How the EPA accomplishes the goals is through Priorities -- which are stated below:

To accomplish this mission, we:
1) Develop and enforce regulations:
When Congress writes an environmental law, we implement it by writing regulations. Often, we set national standards that states and tribes enforce through their own regulations. If they fail to meet the national standards, we can help them. We also enforce our regulations, and help companies understand the requirements. 
2) Give grants:
Nearly half of our budget goes into grants to state environmental programs, non-profits, educational institutions, and others. They use the money for a wide variety of projects, from scientific studies that help us make decisions to community cleanups. Overall, grants help us achieve our overall mission: protect human health and the environment.
3) Study environmental issues:
At laboratories located throughout the nation, we identify and try to solve environmental problems. To learn even more, we share information with other countries, private sector organizations, academic institutions, and other agencies.
4) Sponsor partnerships:
We don't protect the environment on our own, we work with businesses, non-profit organizations, and state and local governments through dozens of partnerships. A few examples include conserving water and energy, minimizing greenhouse gases, re-using solid waste, and getting a handle on pesticide risks. In return, we share information and publicly recognize our partners.
5) Teach people about the environment:
Protecting the environment is everyone's responsibility, and starts with understanding the issues. The basics include reducing how much energy and materials you use, reusing what you can and recycling the rest. There's a lot more about that to learn!
6) Publish information:
Through written materials and this website, EPA informs the public about our activities. 
What we don't do
Sometimes problems seem like something we would handle, but may actually be the responsibility of other federal, tribal, state or local agencies. It may be most appropriate for you to contact your city, county, or state environmental or health agency rather than EPA.
For example:
The Endangered Species Act is primarily managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The Department of Energy Office of Environmental Management addresses the problem of nuclear waste.
Read more about environmental concerns we don't handle, and suggestions for who might be able to help

The priorities above cover a wide range of avenues by which to build a better world.  In a perfect world, the government would be able to carry out all of the priorities listed above with minimal effort. Especially, since the each of us (the public) would do our part in caring for the environment.  In reality, the EPA like other agencies is under funded and needs more resources to regulate and educate -- as I like to state the problem.

Further, the education that is offered by the EPA is wonderful but not taken up by the public - due to lack of awareness.  More time needs to be spent educating the public about the role of their tax-dollars in funding research and making those results available to the public for viewing and future decision-making advice.

In a post I wrote back in January when President Trump silenced the EPA to 'media freeze outs' which was extended to other government agencies -- was a direct restriction of the public's ability to view science research.  The downstream effect of a 'media freeze out' while the Trump administration takes down published research is irreparable in some instances.  We (the public) should openly speak out against such restriction of data and results which is payed for by our money.

One might raise objection and say that the lack of openly voicing concern is due to the politicians in public office -- who speak for them.  That is their job?  Right?  Well, everybody needs a little push from their constituents to realize that sometimes the popular route is not the best route to take in voting for a nominee to run these critical agencies.  Below is an example of a letter of rejection by Senator Susan Collins of Maine (republican) on the recent Trump nominee Scott Pruit.

Senator's Objection

Below is the letter of Senator Susan Collins of Maine as sent to Congress:

“After careful consideration, I have decided to oppose the confirmation of Scott Pruitt, the nominee for Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). I have met at length with Mr. Pruitt, who is an accomplished attorney with considerable knowledge about environmental laws. We discussed many important environmental issues about which I care deeply—from EPA’s enforcement of landmark environmental laws, including the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act, to climate change and the Clean Power Plan, to protections from harmful pollutants such as lead and mercury. I also have reviewed testimony from his confirmation hearing.
“In keeping with my past practice, regardless of which party is in the White House, I will vote for cloture on his nomination so that every Senator can have a clear, up or down vote on this important nomination of a member of the President’s Cabinet. But I will vote no on Mr. Pruitt’s confirmation.
“The fact is, Mr. Pruitt and I have fundamentally different views of the role and mission of the EPA. That does not mean that I agree with every regulatory action that EPA has taken. At times, the Agency has been difficult to work with and unresponsive to bipartisan congressional concerns. But the EPA plays a vital role in implementing and enforcing landmark laws that protect not only our environment but also public health.
“Specifically, I have significant concerns that Mr. Pruitt has actively opposed and sued EPA on numerous issues that are of great importance to the state of Maine, including mercury controls for coal-fired power plants and efforts to reduce cross-state air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. His actions leave me with considerable doubts about whether his vision for the EPA is consistent with the Agency's critical mission to protect human health and the environment.
“The state of Maine, located at the end of our nation’s “air pollution tailpipe,” is on the receiving end of pollution generated by coal-fired power plants in other states. Reducing harmful air pollutants is critical for public health, particularly for Maine which has among the highest rates of asthma in the country. Controls for mercury, one of the most persistent and dangerous pollutants, are especially important for children and pregnant women. Moreover, there is no doubt that the greenhouse gas emissions driving climate change pose a significant threat to our state’s economy and our natural resources, from our working forests, fishing, and agricultural industries, to tourism and recreation.
“The opposition to the nominee expressed by Friends of Acadia is grounded in concerns about the importance of emissions reductions for lessening the impacts of climate change that affect this gem of a national park. The changes we are already seeing in the aquatic life in Casco Bay and the Gulf of Maine, for example, are cause for alarm. The incidence of Lyme disease in northern Maine and high asthma rates throughout the State are also linked to environmental changes that threaten the health and well-being of too many Maine people.
“These are among the reasons why I have voted to uphold the EPA rule governing mercury and air toxics standards from coal-fired power plants and the cross-state air pollution rule, as well as the Clean Power Plan to limit carbon pollution from existing and new fossil fuel-fired power plants.
“I reject the false choice of pitting the environment against the economy because for much of the state of Maine, the economy and the environment are inextricably linked. A strong commitment to protecting the health of our nation’s environment is critical for protecting Maine’s natural beauty, the state’s economy, and the health of those of us fortunate enough to call Maine home.
“Due to my concerns about Mr. Pruitt's commitment to the mission of the EPA, I will cast my vote in opposition to his confirmation.”

Sounds reasonable right?

Senator Susan Collins is expressing concern which is well-grounded in thought based on Scott Pruitt's history of suing the EPA.  Suing the EPA for a less regulated environment in which coal plants operate is literally turning the clock in reverse in protecting the environment.


In closing, polluting the environment at the cost of business is a no-win situation down the line.  Recently, I found a video by the former Governor of California -- Arnold Schwarzenegger -- who clearly outlines the risks and benefits (nearly none) of air pollution.  I featured the video in a post earlier this week - here.  In less that 2 minutes, he outlines how running one of the largest economies is possible by promoting renewable energy without hurting the economy.  With nearly 7 million people dying annually due to asthma and other illnesses related to air pollution, taking measures toward a sustainable environment is possible without hurting the economy.  Take a look at the pictures near the end of the blog post and tell me we do not have a problem generated by our actions.  A problem which will get progressively worse if no solutions are entertained soon.

Instead of eliminating the EPA, we should be devoting more money and resources toward making our nation a better place to live.   Actions taken by Politicians like Governor Schwarzenegger and Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) bring hope that there are authorities in power to move and make decisions that have a positive outcome on the health of our citizens and environment down the line.

Until next time, have a great day!

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