Federal Labor Union Blasts Trump’s Climate Order As An 'Assault' On EPA, Public Health

Federal Labor Union Blasts Trump’s Climate Order As An 'Assault' On EPA, Public Health

Federal Labor Union Blasts Trump’s Climate Order As An 'Assault' On EPA, Public Health

WASHINGTON — If a recent letter to The New York Times is any indication, morale at the Environmental Protection Agency may be at an all-time low.

Michael Kravitz, an EPA scientist in Cincinnati, wrote to the Times that he has enjoyed his career working to help protect the environment. To see the agency taken over by Scott Pruitt, its longtime antagonist, has left Kravitz feeling “very saddened.”

“I walk among my colleagues like a zombie in a bad dream; they also seem dazed,” he wrote. “I hope the nightmare ends soon.” 

Kravitz’s letter to the editor was published the day after President Donald Trump moved to further dismantle former President Barack Obama’s climate legacy, signing an executive order that instructs the EPA to review the Clean Power Plan, a policy limiting greenhouse gas emissions from power plants to combat climate change. 

On Tuesday, the American Federation of Government Employees — a labor union representing roughly 700,000 federal and D.C. government employees, including EPA staff — blasted Trump’s order as the latest in “a continued assault on the country’s top-line of defense for community health.”

AFGE National President J. David Cox Sr. said in a statement it’s “frustrating,” but not surprising, to see the Trump administration roll back key regulations protecting public health and ignore so many years of agency science.”

“The EPA’s enormous success in protecting America’s natural resources and public health seems lost on this administration, as the signing of this executive order demonstrates,” Cox said. 

Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post via Getty Images

A protester has a message for Scott Pruitt as the American Federation of Government Employees and environmental groups rally outside the Environmental Protection Agency on March 15, 2017.

Last month, the White House unveiled a preliminary skinny budget that calls for deep cuts to climate and environmental programs and proposes slashing the EPA’s funding by 31 percent, from $8.2 billion to $5.7 billion. Pruitt, Trump’s pick to lead the EPA and the former attorney general of Oklahoma, is a longtime critic of the agency and denies the overwhelming scientific consensus on climate change. 

Cox said Trump’s latest order, called the “Energy Independence Executive Order,” is part of a larger effort to dismantle the EPA. 

“If the administration continues to hack away at the EPA and push more work to the cash-strapped state and local governments, there will be dire consequences for generations to come,” Cox said. “President Trump says he is bringing back jobs and eliminating ‘job crushing regulations.’ But he is hurting the clean energy industry and driving up future healthcare costs for the citizens who will suffer as a result of having more toxins spewed into America’s air and water.”

Cox added that Trump’s actions are a threat to the EPA’s ability to carry out its mission, which includes providing Americans with clean air and water. In the end, he said, “everyone will suffer.”

At a union gathering last week in Philadelphia, Marie Owens Powell, a 27-year EPA employee and vice president of the American Federation of Government Employees Local 3631, told NPR’s StateImpact that she’s had colleagues come to her office in tears over what’s playing out at the agency. 

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Published at Tue, 04 Apr 2017 18:00:52 +0000