Planet Trump

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News from Ground Control: Planet Trump (April 7)

Friday, April 7, 2017

Over half a million children in America have enough lead in their blood to damage their health, which is why it’s so baffling that the Trump administration wants to eliminate a relatively paltry sum of funding for Environmental Protection Agency programs aimed at shielding children from exposure to the neurotoxin.

The cost of programs that help remove lead-based paint from older homes and buildings is $16 million – a sum President Trump has already far exceeded in seven weekend visits to his Mar-a-Lago resort.

“In the wake of the crisis in Flint, Mich., states and cities across the country are searching for resources to combat lead poisoning in children,” EWG President Ken Cook said of the troubling nature of this decision. “I guess the news about Flint and the revelations that have followed about lead contamination nationwide haven't reached the golf links in Mar-a-Lago.”

It has now also been a bit over a week since EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt announced that the agency will vacate a scheduled ban of the nerve-damaging pesticide chlorpyrifos. This week EWG released shopping tips to avoid produce that likely contains traces of this pesticide in the face of the Trump administration’s inaction.

Here are several of this past week’s deep dives on these and other developments.

The Washington Post, Chris Mooney and Juliet Eliperin (April 5, 2017) Trump’s EPA Moves to Dismantle Programs That Protect Kids From Lead Paint

Environmental Protection Agency officials are proposing to eliminate two programs focused on limiting children’s exposure to lead-based paint, which is known to cause damage to developing brains and nervous systems.

The proposed cuts, outlined in a 64-page budget memo revealed by The Washington Post on Friday, would roll back programs aimed at reducing lead risks by $16.61 million and more than 70 employees, in line with a broader project by the Trump administration to devolve responsibility for environmental and health protection to state and local governments.

Old housing stock is the biggest risk for lead exposure — and the EPA estimates that 38 million U.S. homes contain lead-based paint.

The Huffington Post, Joseph Erbentraut (April 3, 2017) Americans’ Fears About Water Pollution Hit A 16-Year High

Nneka Leiba, deputy director of research at the Environmental Working Group, said the situation in Flint is just one example of a water quality concern likely weighing on Americans’ minds. A report released last year found that 5.2 million Americans’ drinking water supplies are tainted with cancer-linked synthetic chemicals.

“People who may have been complacent about water quality in the past have realized that there should not be complacency, that there is an issue and we should take it seriously,” Leiba told The Huffington Post. “The reality is setting in because real examples are happening.”

Bloomberg, Lauren Coleman-Lochner (April 4, 2017) At Trump’s EPA, Less Science and More Industry

President Donald Trump has vowed to flatten regulatory hurdles for American business, and Congress’s proposed EPA rules for science would make commerce easier. The president has proposed a 31 percent budget cut for the EPA and installed an opponent of the agency, Scott Pruitt, as its leader. Pruitt began the new era of industry over environmental regulation last week by reversing years of scientific opinion, rejecting a proposed ban on chlorpyrifos, a pesticide used on fruits and vegetables that has links to brain damage.

The Atlantic, Robinson Meyer (April 6, 2017) Scott Pruitt Can Go to Congress Whenever He Wants

Whenever Scott Pruitt, the new administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, is pressed on his plans to dismantle the agency’s rules and regulations, he falls back on an easy excuse: The statute made me do it.

Edward Scott Pruitt, you are a very lucky man: You can go to Congress whenever you want! If you need a new regulatory tool, you can seek its lawmaking hammer and anvil. If you believe that the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act prohibit you from preventing thousands of premature deaths and asthma attacks per year, it may be your duty to tell Congress exactly what’s standing in your statutory way.

Modern Farmer, Brian Barth (March 31, 2017) March Policy Round-Up: 5 Important Stories You May Have Missed

After reports this month that the bill (the Regulatory Accountability Act) was gaining traction in the Senate, a dozen such groups (including Food Policy Action, the Environmental Working Group, Food and Water Watch, and the Center for Foodborne Illness Research and Prevention), sent a open letter to Congress members, which has been widely circulated as part of a media campaign to stop Regulatory Accountability Act from advancing.

The New York Times, Coral Davenport (April 5, 2017) Coal is on the Way Out at Electrical Utilities, No Matter What Trump Says

With or without the Clean Power Plan, power companies say, coal is simply no longer the fuel of choice for keeping the lights on in America — and they do not expect it to make a comeback. 

While Mr. Trump tries to roll back the rules today, executives of electric power generators assume that his successors will eventually reinstate them in some form. Essentially, they say, Mr. Trump’s moves are a bump on the road to a future in which the government constrains climate-warming pollution and consumers increasingly demand cleaner power.


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