The other day I heard Donald Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator Scott Pruitt denying he doesn’t care about the environment.
Instead, he said to The New York Times podcast, he was simply restoring the EPA to a regulatory body. He was enforcing the rules, not “weaponising” climate change slogans. Mr Pruitt suggested that the EPA’s role in the United States, the world’s second biggest producer of carbon dioxide, is to enforce the rules rather than avenge attacks on our environment.
If the American people want the EPA to function differently, they should ask their Congressmen to pass the right laws. It’s laws, Mr Pruitt added, that can give the EPA authority to serve in any particular way. In the absence of climate change laws, he said, the EPA should just continue to do its job, which is to enforce the rules.
There’s no two ways about it. The callousness of the Trump administration’s approach to climate change stands out very clearly. Legally, you can’t fault their reasoning. Congress has been lax in not doing what it should’ve done. There are no climate change laws on the books. President Obama tried to get that legislation but couldn’t. In the absence of laws, the EPA has tried very hard to work to its original purpose – preventing various states across America from polluting and poisoning themselves and the country in a race to the bottom, as they compete for commercial investment. That’s what the EPA was set up to do in 1970 and in the absence of climate change laws, it’s only right that it continue to keep any eye on the tendency of big companies to pollute.
But Mr Pruitt’s EPA is moving slowly (or not at all) in taking action against polluters, especially when compared to the Agency’s record during the Obama and Bush administrations.
Mr Pruitt cites the rules but the pretence of simply enforcing the law doesn’t fool too many people.