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Tue, Apr

Trump Rot at the EPA

CLIMATE

ENVIRONMENT - A new report by the EPA’s internal watchdog has exposed Trump administration appointees that meddled in the agency’s science to weaken “the toxicity assessment of PFASs.” If not for the Biden administration, which discovered this egregious complicity by political appointees and the chemical industry to weaken standards of toxicity, Americans would be unnecessarily exposed to dangerous chemicals beyond the abhorrent levels of exposure already extant. 

Shortly after taking the oath of office, Trump grabbed a baseball bat and waddled over to EPA, eviscerating the agency created under President Richard Nixon’s administration in 1970 to protect the country from too much toxicity and carefree abuse/dumping anything and everything into the environment, e.g., Lake Erie considered a “dead lake” in the 1960s.   

Trump chased many EPA senior scientists out, some fled to France. “The nation’s top environmental agency is still reeling from the exodus of more than 1,200 scientists and policy experts during the Trump administration.” (Depleted Under Trump, a ‘Traumatized’ E.P.A. Struggles With its Mission, The New York Times, Jan. 23, 2023) 

As research continues to expose the dangers of PFASs, it’s become the new symbol of toxicity in America. A recent study by Environmental Working Group scientists uncovered disturbing levels of PFASs in America’s freshwater fish found throughout the country from coast-to-coast. Every citizen of America is already subject to exposure to this dangerous chemical that Trump wanted to let loose beyond established principles of science on the public. 

According to numerous studies, PFASs accumulate in human tissue, showing up years later potentially as testicular, kidney, or pancreatic cancer, weakened immune systems, decreased fertility, endocrine disruption, elevated cholesterol, increased risk of asthma, thyroid disease, and puzzling weight gain.  PFAS chemicals have contaminated drinking water for nearly one-half of America’s population. American cases of chronic illnesses at nearly 50% of the general population support that fact. 

According to the EPA: “PFAS are a group of manufactured chemicals that have been used in industry and consumer products since the 1940s because of their useful properties. There are thousands of different PFAS, some of which have been more widely used and studied than others… PFAS can be present in our water, soil, air, and food as well as in materials found in our homes or workplaces.” 

While the Trump administration feverishly worked to weaken the foundation of EPA rules and regulations, the EU was considering a much stronger stance on PFASs. According to the Health and Environment Alliance/Europe: “PFAS pollution is out of control and exposure to several forever chemicals have been linked to an array of adverse health impacts, from liver damage to reduced response to routine vaccination by children and certain cancers. PFASs have contaminated the entire planet and are found in the bodies of most people around the globe.” 

Meanwhile, according to an expose in The Guardian d/d March 23, 2023, regarding the Trump administration: “Scientists say the episode is part of larger rot at the agency.” EPA scientists claim that several employees “willingly worked with the Trump appointees to weaken the assessment.” Ibid.  EPA insiders claim career staff worked hand-in-glove with industry to weaken EPA standards. 

“The controversy centered around a 2021 toxicity report for PFBS, a type of PFAS compound that is toxic at low levels. Research has linked the chemical to kidney disease, reproductive problems and thyroid damage, and it has been found throughout the environment,” Ibid. 

“In its recent report, the EPA’s office of inspector general described ‘unprecedented’ interference by former Trump-appointed EPA chief Andrew Wheeler and other political appointees, who ordered the alteration of the PFBS toxicity value just as the assessment was about to be published in late 2020,” Ibid. 

Trump changes would have resulted in less costly but insufficient cleanup by industry allowing “higher levels of the chemicals in the environment.” Scientists say it would have put human health at risks that could otherwise be prevented. 

It’s nearly impossible to overstate how significant it is to the health and welfare of the country that Biden defeated Trump for the presidency. In February 2021, the Biden administration pulled the Trump-based EPA assessment, declaring it was “compromised by political interference as well as infringement of authorship” and republished the assessment using what it said is “sound science” and declared the issue resolved. 

The election of Trump opened a doorway to a mecca of interference by industry in cahoots with politically appointed Trump EPA administrators to water-down long-established regulations by the EPA that were specifically constructed to safeguard Americans. Now, Trump wants to be president once again. 

Can the environment vote? 

(Robert Hunziker, MA, economic history DePaul University, awarded membership in Pi Gamma Mu International Academic Honor Society in Social Sciences is a freelance writer and environmental journalist who has over 200 published articles appearing in over 50 journals, magazines, and sites worldwide.)