The Clean Water Blog

EPA office building

A Disrespectful Nomination

The Trump administration’s formal nomination of Andrew Wheeler to lead the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is profoundly disturbing to me. Today’s business –as-usual announcement is jarring given the federal government budget impasse and partial shutdown. “Partial” hardly applies to the current situation as it pertains to EPA. Nearly 95% of EPA staff in the Washington, D.C. area and around the country are considered “non-essential” and are not working. This is a not a business as usual time, and there should be no movement on this nomination until EPA is back to work.

EPA’s mission is to implement laws passed by Congress intended to protect us, other residents of our planet, and the planet itself from pollution and from the environmental harm our daily activities can cause. EPA’s mission is literally about our life support systems – water, air, soil, food. Each day the federal government shutdown continues, time and effort are being lost on everything from cleaning up toxic sites to making sure facilities that discharge harmful substances into our rivers, lakes and bays are adhering to their permits.

When we are worried about our drinking water, we want to know what EPA is doing about it. On high air pollution days, we think something ought to be done. That makes EPA being shuttered a threat to our health, to our quality of life, and to our economic well-being and we should be outraged by the disregard for this work that would allow this shutdown to continue.

Nominating a new EPA Administrator today is disrespectful to the EPA staff who carry out this mission, and to the mission itself.  It sends a signal that everything is fine. It’s not fine to reduce EPA’s work by 95%, as described in the agency’s shutdown plan.  Shuttering EPA has real impacts, some of which are described here by our friends at Think Progress.

Speaking of fine, the nomination itself is not fine. You can read our statement explaining why Clean Water Action opposes this nomination. But today, I’m really offended by the timing too.