Do recent headlines about Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) budget cuts and President Trump’s environmental policies have you worried and wondering? Well, if so, you’re not alone. Concern about the environment and environmental health is at an all-time high. The March for Science on Earth Day surely proved that!
A new Gallup poll recently released also shows that 63% of Americans are greatly worried about the pollution of their drinking water. This is the highest level of concern since 2001.
Environmental safety and public health go hand-in-hand. Environmental and health advocates across the globe have been crying foul over Trump’s climate change policy, and many believe that our health and safety may be at risk in the hands of Trump’s EPA head, Scott Pruitt.
If you want to know what to expect from Trump’s changes to Obama environmental policies, and the impact these changes may have in your own life, read on.
There’s no need to feel helpless if you’re concerned. We’ll also tell you what steps you can take a step to help safeguard yourself and your family during this time of environmental uncertainty.
7 Trump’s environmental executive orders and actions
Here are some of the environmental-related measures that the Trump administration and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt have taken so far, and some others that are expected in the future.
EPA and government websites have been modified
Climate change language has been changed and removed from EPA and government websites.
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According to data from the Environmental Data and Governance Initiative (EDGI) and a report by Climate Central, any mention of carbon emissions as a cause of climate change has been erased, along with Obama-era federal climate plans, and mention of international cooperation about climate change.
EDGI also notes numerous changes to references about science and says language about the environmental and public health risks of shale oil (fracking) and natural gas production have been altered.
Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines
After months of public protest and a work stoppage under President Obama, on February 28, 2017, Trump signed a memorandum clearing the way for the pipelines’ construction to be finished.
The administration said the completion of the pipelines will benefit the nation’s job, wages, and economic security. Environmental groups say the pipelines greatly impact global warming, destroy forests, harm the environments of First Nation and Native American communities, and threaten the safe water supply of millions of residents.
Trump rescinds the Clean Water Rule
Trump signed an environmental executive order to rescind the Clean Water Rule.
The Clean Water Rule, put into place under Obama in 2015, protects small streams from pollution, and also determines which bodies of water in U.S., including rivers, lakes and wetlands are protected from pollution by the Clean Water Act of 1972.
Trump signs legislation to end Stream Protection Rule
This Obama-era regulation protected waterways from coal mining waste which includes toxic metals such as arsenic and mercury. It mandated the testing of waterways before, during, and after mining operations, and also required companies that use controversial practices to restore the land after mining was complete.
Refusal to ban insecticides
EPA head, Scott Pruitt, has refused to ban chlorpyrifos. The recommendation to ban the insecticide came from the EPA’s own chemical safety experts during the Obama administration.
Chlorpyrifos is an insecticide that is commonly used on U.S. crops, but is banned in Europe and other countries. Chlorpyrifos is an organophosphate, which the EPA itself says is very highly and acutely toxic to humans, wildlife, and bees.
Experts say it can cause brain and nervous system damage in children even in low amounts, and also harms farm workers.
Trump signs environmental executive order
The Clean Power Plan is a regulation of U.S. power plant greenhouse gas emissions, which is a recognized, leading cause of climate change. The order also rescinds climate change guidance issued by the Council of Environmental Quality under President Obama.
Proposed slashing of the EPA budget and programs
An EPA budget plan obtained by The Washington Post shows that the agency plans to layoff 25% of its workers, slash 25% of its overall budget, and eliminate 56 different programs including those addressing pesticide safety, climate protection, and water pollution runoff problems.
Other sources say the EPA budget cuts could be as high as 31%. Regardless of the number, experts say these cuts would not allow the EPA to perform its most basic functions, and will end services like the environmental justice program which protects those in low-income areas against industrial pollution.
Hispanic and other minority communities would be hit the hardest and left even more vulnerable to toxic environmental pollution.
What can you do to stay safe?
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