Opinion: Pruitt, Trump and Congress are Triple Threat to Environment

Christine DiSabato

On Feb. 17, the U.S. Senate confirmed Scott Pruit, former Oklahoma Attorney General, as head of the Environmental Protection Agency, a government agency formed under Nixon in 1970 to ensure environmental protection and to protect human health via guidelines and regulations. Pruitt, a longtime critic of the EPA, has vowed to curb the agency’s regulatory powers once in office, something President Donald Trump has expressed support for since his campaign.

Over the past six weeks, the majority Republican Congress proved that they will go lock-in-step with Trump’s plans, opening the door for the dismantling of 47 years of environmental protections.

In his short time in office, Trump already signed an array of executive orders to curb protections for the environment and halt research and work in the fight to combat climate change. Out of all of his actions thus far, these movements toward the abrogation of decades of work to improve the environmental condition within our nation and the world are some of the most troubling.

Now, the Trump administration announced plans for a budget that would increase defense spending by $54 billion while cutting any and all non-defense programs to make up the difference. Sources inside the administration were hesitant to outline where the cuts would be made, but they revealed the EPA would be a main target, according to CNN.

In fact, the plan may propose slashing a quarter of the EPA’s budget, a hit that would leave the agency weakened to the point it may only be able to function on its most basic level.

However, the possible cuts are not surprising at all when considering Pruitt’s history as an adversary to the EPA. Pruitt sued the agency a whopping 14 times in his previous role as Oklahoma attorney general and has been a vocal opponent of the EPA’s agenda.

College-aged people like myself do not know firsthand what the nation was like before the EPA. We do not have memories of burning rivers and smog-shrouded skylines in our minds to remind us of why the agency has grown into what it is today. After eight years of President Barack Obama’s administration, it is hard to imagine a government that does not work to combat climate change and pursue sustainable green energy solutions, but we are learning quickly that our government will not always value the health of its nation’s citizens and environment.

We as a party, as Americans and as global citizens need to be tireless in paying careful attention to the actions of Trump, Pruitt and Republicans in Congress against our environment because the effects of such actions will be long-lasting and difficult if not impossible to reverse.

Regarding the cuts, Pruitt said, “What we need to realize is this is the beginning of the process, not the end of the process.”

The question now is what is that process, and what will our nation look like at the end of it?

Christine DiSabato is the director of alumni relations for the College Democrats, contact her at [email protected].