This April 22nd is the 50th Earth Day. While the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has been a part of most every Earth Day celebration since the event was founded by Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin, it is fair to say that by its recent actions the agency’s current leadership has worn out its welcome – the EPA should sit out Earth Day.
The reasons for barring Andrew Wheeler and his circle from Earth Day are now almost too numerous to summarize but we cannot overlook –
- An unprecedented, extremely damaging series of regulatory rollbacks that mean dirtier air, more chemical exposures, and spreading contamination. It is hard to choose, but arguably the most damaging of all is the gutting of the Clean Water Act. This plan leaves opens 60% of currently protected streams, vernal pools, and wetlands (and up to 90% in the arid West) to being filled, dredged, or otherwise destroyed while threatening water security and drinking water quality for hundreds of communities. (The only thing Wheeler could do to make this worse is release the final Waters of the United States [WOTUS] rule this week.)
- Gutting enforcement against polluters, reducing eco-enforcement down to levels not seen in more than a generation; and
- Ending America’s leadership in the war against climate change. On Earth Day 2016, the U.S. signed the Paris Accords. On this Earth Day, EPA is leading a retreat in efforts to control greenhouse gases.
The list of reasons could go on and on. Suffice it to say that we are seeing the biggest reversal of public health and environmental protection in our lifetime.
Nonetheless, EPA’s Office of Public Affairs is gearing up for self-congratulatory celebration on the 22nd. Without a doubt, historically, EPA has played a role in improving our environment but, by its actions in recent years, the agency’s leadership has forfeited any basis for public recognition in 2020.
By contrast, EPA’s career staff should be applauded, and many are casting profiles in courage midst the darkest days of their professional lives.
If you would like to join in disinviting the EPA Administrator and his inner circle from Earth Day 2020,