TRUMP’S WAR ON THE ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY
The Trump administration is waging war on many fronts right here in the United States. It seems as though they are hell-bent on destroying our civil rights with the war on women and the war on the LGBTQ community. But the Trump administration’s war on the Environmental Protection Agency, and by default the environment means they are also hell-bent on destroying our world.
This war is not like the others, however. It is the one war that will forever change the face of our planet and impact human survival. Dark-skinned or light, LGBTQA+ or straight, man or woman, American or foreign; if we don’t win this war, nothing else matters.
NOTHING ELSE MATTERS IF WE CAN’T BREATHE THE AIR OUTSIDE
With ICBMs in North Korea, Puerto Rico getting nearly wiped off the map, and white supremacy once again rearing it’s ugly head, paying attention to everything that is going on is at once monumental and impossible.
Here’s what you need to know about Trump and the GOP’s war on the EPA. Fair warning, you are going to be angry by the end of this one as well.
This piece is broken down into a timeline interspersed with the relevant players. Trump’s ties to the industrial energy complex are right out in the open. The one%ers of the energy industry are calling the shots and not only do they know it, but they are also bragging about it. Read on to find out more.
EARTH DAY, 2009
One Earth Day in 2009 President Barack Obama gave a speech where he laid out some of his plans for the environment. He never doubted the science. He said, “There’s no question that we have to regulate carbon pollution in some way. The only question is how we do it.” And he went on to outline a plan that worked through legislation “that places a market-based cap on these kinds of emissions.”
He also wanted to reorient all the agencies so that they were all focused on taking the extreme threats to the environment seriously. So, the EPA joined in and went to work.
Please note: The regulations that the EPA started enforcing were already in place. They were regulations that were already on the books, and had even been court mandated, yet were just ignored. All the Obama administration did was what we should have been doing all along, according to the laws as they were written.
That having been said, of course, there was more work to be done. So the focus of the EPA became reducing pollution as well as steering the economy towards clean energy solutions. The idea was to create more wind and solar options and use the construction of those grids to fuel job creation. It would have worked.
One of the major problems is that the industries that are threatened and dying have taken up arms. At the mere mention of more regulations or a shift away from oil and gas, and the bigwigs in the industry lost their minds. Suddenly the war heated up, and it was game on.
THE KOCH BROTHERS, FOSSIL FUEL FOSSILS
At about the same time that Obama was making that speech, the Koch brothers were very busy on a campaign of their own, smearing the EPA and Obama and his attempts to clean up the environment. This was nothing new for the brothers because it has been their strategy for decades.
The Koch brothers are the notorious money men who have handed over millions of dollars to fund Republican candidate’s campaigns among other things. They are fossil fuel fossils and have made billions in the gas, oil, and coal industries. They are spending a massive amount of money to protect their interests, and that includes abolishing the EPA entirely.
Alternet broke it down. Since 1997 they have spent millions of dollars to spread misinformation about climate change and advance their agenda. They have spent more than $88 million to spread climate change disinformation. They have spent $38.5 million funding federal candidates, and an additional $117 million lobbying.
DEEP POCKETS FUND MUCH EVIL
As well as paying for the attack ads, the Koch brothers also financed campaigns for Republican candidates across the country. They are among the most influential lobbyists in Washington, with deep ties to Trump and the GOP. They created a conservative group called Americans for Prosperity they use to funnel money into politics. The brothers Koch are among those that pull strings in Washington.
They made every single congressman and woman they bankrolled sign a pledge. The pledge promised that they would do nothing about climate change that would cost a cent.
156 members of Congress signed that pledge.
It’s easy to see that the war on the EPA and their pesky regulations have been going on years before Trump was any more than a speed bump on the political radar. This is a plan hatched eons ago. With the election of Trump and a Republican majority now in Congress, however, it has enabled them to advance their agenda by leaps and bounds.
THE EPA IS NOT THE REASON THAT THE COAL INDUSTRY IS DYING
The fossil fuel industry is threatened, but the coal industry is dying. The main thing they have in common, however, is their hatred of the EPA and the regulations that keep them from killing our planet.
The coal industry IS dying. It has been for a long time. It is NOT dying because of regulations. Regulations are killing neither the coal industry or jobs in other areas. It’s all fabricated. As you can see from the video above, they are buying it.
This bears repeating. The EPA and by extension their regulations are NOT the reason that the coal industry is dying. The coal industry has been dying since the 1980’s. The coal industry is dying a natural death, as it should.
THEIR FABRICATED “WAR ON COAL” HAS WORKED
It benefits those in power, however, for the unemployed miners and their families and neighbors to blame the EPA and Washington instead of what is actually to blame. It benefits them for the rest of the people still employed in the energy sector to feel like the EPA is going to regulate them out of a job.
As in most things, it benefits those in power to keep those under them separated and fighting.
Conversely, the fossil fuel industry is against progress because they know that if we start to power our lives using solar power and wind, they too will be out of a job. Not only that, but they don’t want to spend the money it would cost to follow the regulations, they are desperate not to spend a penny more than they think they should, and damn the planet.
SCOTT PRUITT, ATTORNEY GENERAL
The false wars and propaganda continue to win them elections as well. It’s handy how that works. Write the narrative, tell the masses what they want to hear and BOOM, win elections. Case in point, Scott Pruitt.
Scott Pruitt ran for Attorney General in Oklahoma in 2009. While the Koch brothers were paying for attack ads against the EPA, they also bankrolled his campaign. His platform was unlike any other Attorney General before him. Instead of pledging to fight crime, he promised to fight Washington. He vowed to fight the EPA and gut those ‘job-stealing’ regulations.
It worked. In 2010 Pruitt won the state Attorney General seat by a landslide.
Please note that in Oklahoma about 1 in 7 people are employed by the energy industry in some form or fashion. He told them exactly what they wanted to hear. As previously stated, BOOM, he’s in.
PRUITT WENT TO WORK
Pruitt went right to work and formed a “Federalism Unit.” This was a team specifically designed to fight federal rules and regulations. Well, at least those that affected the bottom line of the energy industry. He also dismantled an Environmental Protection Unit that was in place in the state.
He joined the ranks at RAGA once elected as well. RAGA is Republican Attorney’s General Association. They helped finance his campaign, after all. Their mission, as they tell it, is to get Republicans elected at State Attorney’s General, and keep them on the same page politically. They have been tied to much more nefarious practices as well, as you will see.
Currently, RAGA is made up of 29 attorneys general. On their web page they say that their purpose is to “address the lack of commitment by some state attorneys general to defend federalism, adhere to the law, and apply common sense, free-market approach to governing.”
What they are doing, however, is working directly with corporations to help shift policy, as was found out by Eric Lipton at the New York Times. He investigated the link between RAGA and the energy sector and found some compelling stuff. He won a Pulitzer Prize for his three-piece series that detailed what he found.
RAGA WORKS DIRECTLY WITH CORPORATIONS TO DECIDE POLICY
Lipton wrote, “Out of public view, corporate representatives and attorneys general are coordinating legal strategy and other efforts to fight federal regulations, according to a review of thousands of emails and court documents and dozens of interviews.”
On top of that, Scott Pruitt spent time as a member of the executive committee for RAGA. He received millions of dollars in “donations” directly from corporations trying to further their agenda. During that time, RAGA received $530,000 from Koch industries, $350,000 from Murray Energy, and $125,000 from Devon Energy.
What you see now with the Trump administration is the triumph of the anti-environmental movement. They are now in control of the government, and in control of the regulatory process, in a kind of brazen way we haven’t seen before. – Jane Mayer, The New Yorker
On their web page RAGA brags about putting a stop to such things as monitoring for mercury levels in water, cleaner air, EPA regulations, background checks for firearms, and support for the Keystone pipeline. This is not a group of people who give a damn about the environment, or anything else outside their own pockets and those of their benefactors.
Another example of corporations directly influencing policy, up to and including actual strategy sessions between attorneys general and corporate representatives on the best practices to protect their bottom line.
THE CLEAN POWER PLAN
Then Obama announced his Clean Power Plan. It was the first piece of legislation in existence that proposed to limit carbon emissions in this country. It was about time.
Before outlining what it was asking of them, I want to talk about the reaction. One would have thought it asked for a blood sacrifice and three-years profit plus a first born child.
Pruitt and RAGA brought a total of 14 lawsuits. The attack ads doubled down. RAGA, the Koch brothers, Pruitt, and the GOP rained down pure hell on the Obama administration. Eventually, in 2016, the Supreme Court put the plan on hold because of the lawsuit brought by Scott Pruitt and Bob Murray.
What was the plan asking them to do?
All it asked was that they reduce emissions by 30%, and then it gave them decades to do so. That’s it. It did not ask them to do anything out of the ordinary, or even that extreme. Certainly nothing worth the fuss they kicked up.
The Clean Power Plan would go on to become the basis for the Paris Climate Agreement, and in case you haven’t heard, Trump already pulled us out of that one as well.
Just goes to show how far some people are willing to go to protect that bottom line.
THEN TRUMP WON THE ELECTION
Then, in November 2016 the game changed drastically and tipped even further in their direction when Donald Trump won the election. Much to the delight of the right, all the fabricated ‘wars’ and the propaganda worked, and now there is a maniac at the helm willing to do their bidding, as well as slightly lesser maniacs manning the helms in positions large and small across the country.
Like those at RAGA.
Then Trump dropped one of his many bombs. He announced his intentions to appoint one of the men fighting the hardest to destroy the EPA, to lead the organization. In December of 2016 Trump announced that Scott Pruitt would indeed go directly from trying to kill it, to being the one in charge of the EPA.
What the hell just happened?
BOB MURRAY, CEO MURRAY ENERGY CORP.
Bob Murray is CEO of Murray Energy Corporation, and he is one of the things that happened. He is good friends with the brothers Koch as well as Scott Pruitt. His company mainly deals in coal. He always brags about how close he is with Trump, as well as how much influence he has on the president as well as a direct impact on policy.
When asked if he had a hand in Trump selecting Pruitt fo head the EPA he answered “no comment.” Which, of course, means yes. He says he was delighted to get the news, however, that Pruitt had indeed been selected to head the EPA.
Concerning climate change and the EPA, he says the following: “We don’t have a climate change problem. It is not real and not scientifically based; it’s theology. It’s politics. And it’s an agenda. They packed the U.S. EPA with radical environmentalists. Never created a job in their lives. Never produced anything for society, but sat there writing rules all day. I have nothing but contempt.”
After the Supreme Court put a hold on the Clean Power Plan Murray spoke about how he felt. He said, “it invigorated us. I’ve fought this fight every day, and now I’m going to bury the sons-of-bitches.”
PRUITT’S CONFIRMATION HEARING
Pruitt’s confirmation hearing would have been an excellent chance for the man to ease the fears of the Democrats and try to explain why someone fighting so hard against the agency should run it. He didn’t care even to try, however.
He walked into the hearing being hailed on all sides by “Murray’s Miners.” Men dressed in full miner gear who work for Bob Murray, there to support their man.
Pruitt simply lied, of course. Either lies or those empty words that form a sentence, yet say nothing.
He said, “I believe there is a very important role for the Environmental Protection Agency. In fact, its involvement in protecting our air quality and improving our nation’s waters is extremely important and the EPA has served a very valuable role historically.”
Pruitt also expressed doubts about climate change right there in the hearing. “Let me say to you; science tells us that the climate is changing and that human activity in some manner impacts that change. The ability to measure with precision the degree and extent of that impact, and what to do about it, are subject to continuing debate and dialogue, and well it should be.”
Bernie Sanders said, “The fear is that the nomination of Mr. Pruitt is a nomination designed to protect the fossil fuel industry and not the environment.”
A former Attorney General from Rhode Island, Sheldon Whitehouse, questioned Pruitt about his apparent conflicts of interest. Specifically about the money that he accepted on behalf of RAGA. Pruitt admitted openly at the hearing that he solicited the money.
Whitehouse said, “In the ordinary course, his conflicts of interest would disqualify him from this position. And were it not for the power of the fossil fuel industry in Congress then I don‘t think he would have had a shot.”
This is yet another example of just how out of the ordinary so many things this administration does. Absolutely unprecedented.
TRUMP ANNOUNCES HIS PLANS TO GUT THE CLEAN POWER PLAN
In February, after Democrats filibustered and did everything in their power to stop it, Pruitt was confirmed as head of the EPA. Susan Collins from Maine was the only Republican to vote against him. Alas, with a Republican majority in Congress, there was only so much they could do.
Then, in March of 2017, Trump signed an executive order that outlined his plans to gut the Clean Power Plan entirely. He signed said executive order in the lobby of the EPA, surrounded by the same Murray’s Miners that were there at Pruitt’s confirmation hearing.
Bob Murray was in the crowd at the signing and bragged about Trump waving at him from the podium in an interview with PBS. He then went on to say, “It was eight years of pure hell under the Democratic party and Obama. But we won! It’s a wonderful victory.”
Not everyone was that pleased, however. Suddenly, employees of the EPA find themselves working next to the same people who have spent decades and millions of dollars trying to bring them down. All the while they are listening to their president essentially call them liars and sign an order that will be putting many of them out of work.
THE RESPONSE TO THE EXECUTIVE ORDER
The responses are not only towards the order itself but also how it was signed. For Trump to do so at EPA headquarters truly was a slap in the face to everyone who has dedicated their lives to saving the environment.
This wasn’t the only time Trump deployed such tactics, and it won’t be the last. It’s equally disgusting every time he pulls a stunt like this, however.
Gina McCarthy was EPA administrator from 2013 – 2017. She said, “You know what was most awkward about watching the signing of that executive order was the fact that they were doing it at EPA. To me, it was not just a signal to his base, but a real shot across the bow to the agency itself. And, uh… and it was… it was disturbing.”
Eric Lipton has covered every angle of this extensively for his series and seemed utterly shocked at how brazen they were. He said, “The notion that Bob Murray of Murray Coal was at the EPA headquarters celebrating action by the EPA was like so completely fiction.”
Eric Schaeffer was Director of EPA Civil Enforcement from 1997 – 2002. He said, “What it conveyed is, this is a hostile takeover. You, the scientists and lawyers and engineers at the agency, are no longer valued. This is a political operation.”
THE MOOD AT THE AGENCY
Betsy Southerland was Director of EPA Office of Science and Technology from 2012 – 2017 but worked for the agency for more than 30 years. She left the organization in July and she is the longest running staff member to speak to any member of the press. She talked to PBS and gave a grim picture of what life is like at EPA headquarters since the election.
She said the political leaders that were brought in never spoke to anyone at the agency. Not even to members of upper management.
“The atmosphere of EPA is really tense,” said Southerland. “What everyone is trying desperately to do is to hope against hope that their facts will change Scott Pruitt’s mind, that they’ll be special and they’ll be able to convince the administrator, you know, not to go with whatever the industry people have asked him to do and to give some deference to the science and engineering behind previous regulations that were so thoroughly thought out and so thoroughly justified.”
There is a clear and present danger to public health and safety in this country, that the repeals this administration is going to undertake are going to go forward. hey’re not going to slow down.” – Betsy Sounderland
She added that she didn’t hold out any hope for that, however, as Pruitt seems to be a blank slate who cares little for facts or debate of any kind.
At her retirement party, her speech didn’t pull any punches and Southerland told the stone cold truth. Southerland said:
Today the environmental field is suffering from the triumph of myth over truth. The truth is, there is no war on coal, there is no economic crisis caused by environmental protection, and climate change is caused by man’s activities.
PRUITT, MURRAY, AND TRUMP’S AGENDA
Naturally, Bob Murray is delighted that Pruitt is in place and that things are finally going his way. After all, he has spent millions of dollars hoping for just this outcome, and unfortunately, for now, it’s working.
They are gloating about it too. It should be noted here, and this is of the utmost importance, this man has Trump’s ear. He won’t stop bragging about that fact, either. In the same interview, he spoke about his plan.
“I have Mr. Trump what I called an action plan very early,” said Murray. “It’s about three-and-a-half pages of what he needed to do in his administration. He’s wiped out page one.”
Yes, you read that correctly. There is a coal CEO bragging about writing economic policy. I did warn you that you would get angry.
Murray also said, “Donald Trump has a mandate to keep his campaign promise to withdraw from the Climate Paris Accord.” When the interviewer asked if that is what he told Trump, he replied, “Yes, he did.”
PRUITT IS GUTTING THE EPA
Along with shutting down the Clean Power Plan, Pruitt has been busy gutting the EPA and stripping everything Obama put in place.
They have already dropped requirements entirely that said oil and gas interests should report their statistics on methane emissions. Pruitt has even reversed steps that banned a pesticide linked to illness in children and farm workers. They have also allowed coal dumping in rivers and streams once again.
They have rolled back or delayed more than two dozen rules and regulations, so far. Trump recently announced that a lobbyist for Murray Energy is going to be Pruitt’s second-in-command at the EPA.
On October 10th Pruitt signed a bill that repeals the Clean Power Plan entirely.
THE EPA IS SURROUNDED AND STARTING TO SINK
If you have made it this far, congratulations, you are almost there. Now you know what is going on and who is at the helm in this fight for our planet. The Koch brothers, Bob Murray, and Scott Pruitt are the ones to watch. They have had plans in the works for decades and they are finally coming to fruition.
They are now setting the policies that they were so invovlved with trying to kill. He is making the regulated the regulators. – Eric Lipton, New York TImes
We are living in a time where money talks. If you have enough money, you can buy influence. You can spend millions to spread disinformation and propaganda. You can spend millions more and buy yourself some politicians too. At this moment in time, we can see that if someone has enough money, they can rewrite reality and their base eats it up.
They no longer care that we know the truth because as long as their base believes them, they have what they need.
THIS IS FAR FROM OVER – A PERSONAL NOTE
While writing this, I spent some of the time, in upstate New York in October sitting outside or inside in front of an open window. It’s 70 degrees out there and nearly Halloween. It just stormed. Thunder and everything. Hurricanes have turned into super storms, California is on fire, rivers are too polluted to swim in, and other places suffer severe drought.
It quite reminds me of the fantasy novels that I read. It’s very much like the dark one’s touch is upon the land, and it is up to the little guy (think Frodo) to overcome the enormous evil and set things right.
Remember, too, that in those books, it is always darkest before things work out and good overcomes evil. Take heart; this isn’t over yet.
The information given here is overwhelming and beyond disheartening. We find ourselves in a place where, once again, we wonder what in the world we can do to change the course of events.
Well, we are doing it. So far, we still have a free press and the ability to learn the truth. Staying informed is step one in fighting back against this tide. Step two is up to you. You can click here for a list of things you can do to make a difference in the time it takes to order a pizza.
Whatever it is that you choose, make sure you select something. It’s past time to sound the alarm. We need to step up right now if we want to save this planet for our grandkids. The time is now.
As always, no matter what, love each other relentlessly.