Friday, 17 March 2017

America about to learn how ideology-driven budget & regulatory cuts can play havoc with the natural world and wreck quality of life

Sadly US citizens are about to learn the hard lessons Australians have learnt under the far-right Abbott and Turnbull governments when ideology finally consumed all other considerations.

Mother Jones, 6 March 2017:
President Donald Trump promised during the campaign to get rid of the Environmental Protection Agency "in almost every form." That probably isn't going to happen, but if recent reports are correct, the White House is planning massive cuts to the agency, potentially wiping out up to a quarter of its $8.1 billion budget and eliminating as many as 3,000 jobs.
Cleanup projects, scientific research, and the office responsible for enforcing air quality standards are all reportedly on the chopping block. Any funding related to climate change is at risk of being zeroed out. The Oregonian has a list of 42 EPA cuts outlined in a leaked version of Trump's proposed budget. Not all of these cuts will necessarily be enacted by Congress; a few Republicans, including EPA administrator Scott Pruitt himself, have already balked at some of the proposed reductions to state environmental grants.
Just a few of the presidential actions since 20 January 2017:

Presidential Memorandum on January 20, 2017
Executive Order on January 24, 2017
Presidential Memorandum on January 24, 2017
Presidential Memorandum on January 24, 2017
Presidential Memorandum on January 24, 2017
Statements of Administration Policy on February 07, 2017
Executive Order on February 28, 2017
Statements of Administration Policy on February 28, 2017

The Intercept, 6 March 2017:
MUCH OF THE COUNTRY has been watching in horror as Donald Trump has made good on his promises to eviscerate the Environmental Protection Agency — delaying 30 regulations, severely limiting the information staffers can release, and installing Scott Pruitt as the agency’s administrator to destroy the agency from within. But even those keeping their eyes on the EPA may have missed a quieter attack on environmental protections now being launched in Congress.
On Tuesday, the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology is expected to hold a hearing on a bill to undermine health regulations that is based on a strategy cooked up by tobacco industry strategists more than two decades ago. At what Republicans on the committee have dubbed the “Making EPA Great Again” hearing, lawmakers are likely to discuss the Secret Science Reform Act, a bill that would limit the EPA to using only data that can be replicated or made available for “independent analysis.”
The proposal may sound reasonable enough at first. But because health research often contains confidential personal information that is illegal to share, the bill would prevent the EPA from using many of the best scientific studies. It would also prohibit using studies of one-time events, such as the Gulf oil spill or the effect of a partial ban of chlorpyrifos on children, which fueled the EPA’s decision to eliminate all agricultural uses of the pesticide, because these events — and thus the studies of them — can’t be repeated. Although it is nominally about transparency, the bill leaves intact protections that allow industry to keep much of its own inner workings and skewed research secret from the public, while delegitimizing studies done by researchers with no vested interest in their outcome.

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