Richard Nixon departed the White House in ignominy after resigning the presidency on August 9, 1974. The Watergate scandal had finally done him in. (Even today, a political scandal is labeled “-gate.)
Since Nixon’s leaving, the Electoral College has given the U.S. several Republican presidents. With an exception or maybe two, each was lazier and oversaw an administration more corrupt than his predecessor.
But I digress.
President Nixon signed into law the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) on New Year’s Day, 1970.
Republicans emphatically oppose an overreaching Federal Government interfering with business. Except when they don’t. Republicans are strongly in favor of the rights of states to handle their own internal affairs. Except when they aren’t.
As part of the current occupant of the White House’s War on Anything Obama, the Environmental Protection Agency rescinded regulations mandating increased automobile fuel economy. The regs, issued in 2011, required automobile manufacturers to produce average fuel economy of 50 miles per gallon by the year 2025. The present-day EPA stated that fewer emissions was a noble goal but it would make cars more expensive and somehow less safe and so isn’t worth it
While Republicans were noisily reminding us what they think of women, they were quietly reminding us what they think of science.
The Environmental Protection Agency is preparing to merge two of its science offices: the Office of Science Policy with the Office of Science Advisor. The stated purpose of the merging is “in order to reduce redundancies.” Critics say the real purpose is to mute the voice of science.
The Office of Science Advisor manages scientific standards throughout the agency and is tasked with providing unbiased advice to the EPA administrator. This action will reduce its role in the agency, putting it further down in the bureaucracy’s pecking order.
“By dissolving the science adviser’s office and putting it several layers down in ORD [Office of Research and Development], that greatly accelerates the decay of science advice within the EPA administrator’s office,” said Michael Halpern, deputy director of the Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists. “That kind of coordination is much more difficult to do if they’re buried down inside an office.”
Perhaps the petty and farcical corruptions of the former head of the Environmental Protection Agency have angered and/or amused you to the point of distraction. National Geographic magazine has made it easy to keep current with our federal government’s attacks on science and environmental regulation. They publish a regularly-updated listing of the latest news on their web site. Their latest post: “Trump Officials Set Aside Evidence of National Monuments’ Successes.”
Gaylord Nelson, Democratic Senator from Wisconsin, originated the first Earth Day in 1970. (Also born in 1970 was Paul Ryan, an Ayn Rand acolyte elected to Congress by Wisconsin voters in 1998.) Nelson wanted a “national teach-in on the environment.” Pete McCloskey, a Republican Congressman, from California, served as Nelson’s co-chair. What are the chances today of a Democrat and a Republican coming together on environmental issues?
Twenty-million Americans demonstrated on April 22, 1970, sending a message that it was time to address the deterioration of the air, the water and the land. Later that year, President Richard Nixon issued an executive order creating the Environmental Protection Agency. Congress soon after ratified the order. Nixon – yes, that Richard Nixon – also signed the Clean Air Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act and the Endangered Species Act.
Forty-seven years later, flanked by coal-company executives, coal miners and the vice-president, along with various administration flunkies, Donald Trump signed an executive order rescinding his predecessor’s “Clean Power Plan.” Just to rub the EPA’s nose in it, the president held the signing ceremony inside the agency’s offices. He finished by telling the deluded coal miners, “C’mon, fellas. You know what this is? You know what this says? You’re going back to work.” According to the Associated Press, renewable-energy jobs already outnumber coal jobs, and many renewable-energy technologies are on their way to being cheaper than coal.
Obama’s executive order was a plan to reduce carbon emissions. Trump’s EO lifts a moratorium on new coal mining leases on federal land and relaxes limits on new coal power plant construction.
I wonder what our children and grandchildren will think about this.
…and in other news…
In a lawsuit filed against Palm Beach County, Trump demanded $100 million damages, alleging that emissions from the jets flying overhead are “causing substantial destruction of the materials” used to build the club, which include unique and historical items like “porous Dorian stone, antique Spanish tiles and antique Cuban roof tiles.”
And if that wasn’t bad enough, the suit claims noise and fumes from the air traffic have “substantially deprived” Trump and the club’s members the ability to use the property’s outdoor areas and amenities.