by Julia Venturelli
This article explains new rules that will significantly change the role of the EPA. Scott Pruitt leading the agency announced a new set of standards when the EPA purposes new policies. This new change is that they are restricting the use of scientific studies. These are the studies that they use as data when conducting research in order to have evidence of why we need certain policies. Science is fundamental to the EPA so taking it away would leave the EPA powerless. This may be exactly what the Trump Administration wants, a powerless EPA. They say the reason for this change is so that the public could be able to see the certain studies that are being conducted in live time and making the organization “transparent”. Making it available to the public causes issues because the article explains that “much research relies on confidential health data from study subjects”. This type of regulation on the EPA is going to gridlock them and the studies that they will conduct will not be the cutting edge recent debate topics that the public wants. They will be the watered-down version of things that people either do not care about or things that there is already knowledge about. The Trump administration is really tarnishing the EPA and completely destroying any power that they once had. What do you think about these new regulations?
by Justin Welsh
As we know, the Trump administration is pulling back from environmental issues and as of Tuesday the 23rd the Environmental Protection Agency announced new regulation that will restrict certain scientific studies. The E.P.A. will demand that data, pertaining to air and water regulations, collected by scientists would now have to be publicly available, even from the past. This regulation interferes with scientific studies because their work depends on confidentiality with patient’s public health records.
Scott Pruitt is leading the way on this proposal and claims “the science that we use is going to be transparent, it’s going to be reproducible.” This will limit the E.P.A.’s ability to regulate carbon emissions, air pollution and pesticides. If the policy is enacted it would be hard for a future administration to reserve the decision. The opposing side has vowed to challenge this in court and an environmental law professor from Harvard believes Scott Pruitt would be acting “arbitrary and capricious”.
Supporters of the plan are chemical and fossil-fuel industries and climate change denialists. Chemical and fossil-fuels directly harm humans and lead to premature deaths so they both fall in the category of public health. Sadly, these industries will reap the most benefit if this goes through and the cause the most harm.
by George Tahopoulos
On Thursday of this week New Jersey drastically changed its energy sector. They passed two bills that set new goals for increasing the amount of renewable energy that goes into the state. The deal consists of New Jersey saying that by 2030 they will generate 50% of their electricity from renewable energy. The bill was also passed with a 300 million dollar subsidy to the states remaining nuclear power plants which, some environmental groups are not exactly enthused by this because it starts another argument to whether we should move over to nuclear energy even though the danger is high and it is practically impossible to dispose of the waste.
People like Jeff Tittel the director of the New Jersey Sierra Club think that the bill is purely about the subsidy and that the quota set on renewable energy is a diversion to make you not see what is actually going on. In my opinion I believe that by 2030 most of the country will already be on renewable energy so I feel as if the nuclear industry is not mad about the bill being passed.
All of this is of course in response to President Trump taking us out of the Paris agreement. Since then there has been much outrage in the environmental community and senators have started to take matters in their own hands. This is just one of the 14 states whose senators announced that they would uphold the agreement and push forward on their own.
by Michael Patterson
Government officials in La Plata Country, Colorado are working to address an issue that has residents concerned. Natural gas wells in the region are found to be emitting high amounts of methane and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. This discovery came after a 2014 NASA study found that La Plata County had the highest level of methane in the country (Plautz para. 2).
La Plata County Commissioner Gwen Lachelt has been actively involved with protecting communities from environmental harm caused by these natural gas wells. She approached Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) to get his vote for limiting the use of gas wells in Colorado communities. Senator McCain voted against the removal of the Obama-era rule, which limits the amount of methane being emitted on public land. However, some people have criticized Lachelt for her role in the environmental movement. Some say that her trip to Washington is evidence that she is using her role in public office for personal gain because her trip was funded by an environmental group that she also leads. The issue of oil and politics will be a debate for several years to come.
by Travis Turner
A recent test done by the American Lung Association discovered that air quality has been decreasing in several parts of Delaware. The three counties all scored poorly on the high ozone days category. Kent county received a C, Sussex received a D, and New Castle received a F. However, both Kent and Sussex received an A for their particle pollution, while New Castle received a D. Kevin Stewart who is the Environmental Health Director believes these low ratings are due to several main factors. The biggest cause of this is that I – 95 runs right through most of New Castle. Cars, trucks and buses are big contributors to ozone pollution. New Castle is also home to a fairly large commuter work force. Another interesting cause of the pollution can be considered a negative externality. Delaware is located downwind to several high polluting businesses. Since they are not in the state borders, unfortunately there is not much Delaware can do about it.
I believe this air quality issue needs to be addressed on a national level for any significant change to occur. We currently take clean air for granted and we really shouldn’t. There are countries out there who do not have the luxury of clean air. Countries like China deal with smog and acid rain due to their high levels of pollution. Realistically I don’t think we will ever end up in their position, but that doesn’t mean we should not put some effort into improving our current air quality.
by Shane Pollock
Since taking office in 2017, the head of the EPA, Scott Pruitt has been reported of meeting with at least 39 of his campaign donors, including major oil, gas, and coal companies, such as Murray Energy. This report comes at a time where Pruitt is facing a lot of criticism for his office’s spending habits. The meetings with past donors have greatly outnumbered meetings with environmental organizations. On top of this, Pruitt has already given speeches at 4 different events planned by the Federalist Society, another one of Pruitt’s donors during his campaign for Attorney General. Pruitt has also been seen touring a coal mine in Wyoming, Arch Coal, which ironically also donated to his campaign in 2014. All of these meetings and events are made public by the EPA, and can be seen here: https://www.epa.gov/senior-leaders-calendars/calendar-scott-pruitt-administrator .
What do you think about Pruitt focusing a lot of his time on past donors of his campaigns? Is it a normal part of politics, or is in inappropriate for a sitting administrator to do? Do you think Pruitt should be more concerned with our environment than maintaining past relationships? Personally, I believe Pruitt is focusing far too much of his time on the wrong industries. With so much attention on the oil & gas industry, how is he benefiting our environment?
by Ryan Molloy
During a press conference in New York last Thursday, the president of the United Nations (Antonio Guterres) delivered strong words about what this nation’s biggest threat is. Many were expecting answers similar to nuclear attacks, civil war, etc. Although Guterres stated his belief that the biggest threat to humanity is climate change, Guterres then mentioned that the economic cost of climate related disaster has hit a staggering $320 billion. He expresses concern of how many more “alarm bells” need to go off before the issue is taken as seriously as it should be.
Focusing on emissions, Guterres is holding a United Nations Summit on Climate change next year, specifically targeting government leaders to strengthen their pledges that they have made to curb emissions under the Paris agreement before 2020. Although Trump has announced the United States’ departure from the Paris agreement, it does not end until 2020. With that being said, not only do government leaders need to do their part but business leaders and powerful investors also play crucial roles as well. Guterres believes that all around the world the role of government is becoming less and less relevant and the role of the economy and society is playing a larger role. American businesses and society has done a great job in enforcing the Paris Agreement. Unlike American businesses, the government is doing the exact opposite and completely withdrawing from the agreement. Guterres still holds out hope that he can get the Trump administration to stay with the Paris Agreement.