EPA Administrator Must Transcend Partisan Politics

BY ON January 4, 2017


This was written by Paige Wolf:

As the parent of an asthmatic child in the city of Philadelphia – a city where nearly one-third of our children suffer respiratory issues and more than 10% of children have elevated blood lead levelsI am deeply concerned by the extreme anti-environmental stances of the Trump administration. (Tweet this)

Republicans and the Environment

The environment wasn’t always a partisan issue. (Tweet this) In fact, Republican presidents made some of the greatest environmental progress of all time.

In the 1970s, Richard Nixon’s administration created the Environmental Protection Agency with the assistance of a bipartisan congress. As President, Nixon signed the National Environmental Policy Act in 1970 and delivered a call to make “the 1970s a historic period when, by conscious choice, [we] transform our land into what we want it to become.”

In the 1980s, President Reagan rose above the politically-charged rhetoric and sided with science, giving the State Department direction to negotiate the strongest possible treaty. The result was the Montreal Protocol Treaty to begin phasing out production of the ozone-depleting gasses, widely regarded as the most successful environmental treaty in history.

Currently, more than 97% of scientists agree that climate-warming trends over the past century are due to human activities, and public opinion is beginning to catch up. According to a March 2016 Gallup poll, 64% of Americans are worried about climate change, while 65% of Americans believe that human activity is to blame for increases in the Earth’s temperature over the last century.

In a recent Yale University and George Mason University survey, 7 in 10 American voters believe that the U.S. should participate in international efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions. Eighty-five percent of Democrats and 76 percent of Republicans think the U.S. should use more renewable energy, and more than 71 percent of polled voters believe the federal government should do more to prepare for the impacts of climate change.

Whether republican, democrat, or independent, the vast majority of Americans want strong environmental regulations and protections from harmful chemicals. But when it comes to our latest highest ranking elected officials, clean air and water has somehow become a partisan issue.

In a December 2016 interview, President-elect Trump said about climate change, “I’m somebody that gets it. And nobody really knows. It’s not something that’s so hard and fast.” And that’s actually one of the tamer things he’s been known to say about climate change, in the past tweeting that “climate change is a hoax created by the Chinese.”

While on the campaign trail, Trump repeatedly vowed to dismantle the EPA. And that vow could easily come to fruition under the control of his appointee to head the agency – big oil ally and climate change denier, Scott Pruitt. Pruitt’s past includes suing EPA, attacking vital health protections against soot and smog pollution, accepting money from corporate polluters, and lying about the science of climate change.

What Republican Moms Want

It’s not just the democratic voting moms who are concerned. Republican-identifying moms — acquaintances of mine — want bi-partisan climate solutions:

Even though, I tend to agree with many of the political views of members of the GOP party, including healthcare, oversight, and cost reduction, I am extremely concerned about the lack of acknowledgement and action in regards to our environment, especially forthcoming in the new administration.  I was disheartened and disappointed following the appointment of climate change skeptics, Jeff Sessions as Attorney General and Scott Pruitt to the EPA.  I am hopeful that our government can follow through with the intended checks and balances to ensure that members of the new administration are unable to derail the research and progress made.” – Amy, Atlanta

“As the mother of a daughter with asthma, I am deeply concerned about the direction of the Republican party when it comes to climate change. I worry that the GOP platform is unfortunately trying to appeal to a select group of people who are shouting the loudest. It’s time to stop shouting and start listening – we need to change the conversation.” – Raya, Upper Darby, PA

How did the conversation go completely awry?

Over the past eight years, the official Republican platform has gone from acknowledging that human activity increases carbon in the atmosphere and that the U.S. should take measured and reasonable steps to proposing forbidding the EPA to regulate carbon dioxide and doing away with America’s Clean Power Plan. 

Climate change – including protecting our air, water, food supply, and natural resources – should not be a partisan issue. Since most Americans across the political spectrum favor stricter environmental laws and regulations, why isn’t the Republican party listening to its constituents – and the vast majority of Americans? After all, nearly three-quarters (73%) of Trump voters think that we should maintain or increase spending on renewable energy!

Parents want our hopes and fears for our asthmatic children heard. We want clean renewable energy to fuel our future, not dirty fossil fuels. Scott Pruitt’s entire career has demonstrated that his priority is obstructing clean air safeguards. His nomination for EPA head threatens the health of our children and families.



Paige Wolf is the author of Spit That Out: The Overly Informed Parent’s Guide to Raising Healthy Kids in the Age of Environmental Guilt (New Society Publishers, 2016), offering advice on making green living practical, manageable, and affordable. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband, two children, and American Hairless Terrier. Follow @paigewolf on Twitter.

TOPICS: Asthma, Clean Air Rules and Regulations, EPA, Pennsylvania, Politics