An Alt-EPA is Developing in the United States

June 15, 2017 – As the Trump administration guts the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to ensure climate change is no longer its focus, former employees and those who may soon find they are out of work are banding together to form something called the Environmental Protection Network (EPN). It is truly an Alt-EPA aimed at continuing the work that is now being crippled under the anti-climate change new regime. The EPN intends to continue doing the science associated with the field of climate change without government interference.

 

 

Back in March the EPN analyzed the Trump administration’s budget proposals for the EPA. They concluded it threatened Americans by cutting programs that the EPA has operated to protect the overall health and environmental wellbeing of the country. They noted that the proposed cuts were based on no analysis, just a reflection of ideological views on the role of government in protecting public health and a trashing of environmental laws.

They noted that most climate programs would be eliminated in the proposed 43% budget cut. Cuts to clean air, water and land programs including safe waste management would take the federal government out of these areas of responsibility leaving decisions to underfunded state and local governments. Additional cuts of 45% would impact clean air, water and other programs that the EPA funded for those local governments under federal-state partnership. The science research of the EPA would no longer be funded. Environmental regulations would no longer be enforced. And programs attached to specific geography would be zeroed out include the Great Lakes project, the remediation programs to save Chesapeake Bay, Long Island Sound, San Francisco Bay, the Florida Keys, south Florida ecosystems, and others. In all cases the continuation of these programs would devolve to local authorities including funding. Some 3,200 EPA employees would be terminated and EPA office consolidation would eliminate 2 of the 10 regional locations.

In concluding the analysis, the newly formed EPN stated, “At a time when the U.S. should be stepping up its investment in environmental protection, the Trump Administration is in effect declaring that it is no longer taking pollution impacts on human health and the environment seriously.”

Although the EPN will have no regulatory authority it hopes to be the environmental conscience of the country. It describes itself as a bipartisan network of more than 75 former employees of the EPA and related federal and state agencies including former civil servants who are scientists, engineers, economists, lawyers and other professionals. The mission statement refers to the EPN’s goal to preserve and make advances based on the legacy of progress made by the EPA on issues like clean air, water, land, and climate.

Goals are described as follows:

  1. Preserving the science-based, cost-effective environmental protections that most Americans enjoy today, and ensuring that every American benefits from those protections regardless of where they live, work and play.
  2. Advancing environmental protections as needed to respond to remaining and emerging threats.
  3. Sustaining the budget, staffing and other resources that public agencies need to perform their essential roles in the federal-state system of environmental protection established by our nation’s environmental laws.
  4. Ensuring the capacity of public agencies to conduct independent scientific research and analysis and to supply critical environmental information to federal and state decision-makers and the public.
  5. Promoting public understanding of scientific, legal, policy and economic issues raised by new Executive Orders or proposals to change current environmental laws and regulations.

Among those who have joined the EPN are citizen scientists from across the United States. A local environmental observer network includes indigenous community members from Alaska and other U.S. states.

How will the EPN be funded?

It will be interesting to see how existing green funding organizations may get involved in ensuring the EPN can gain enough financial support to make a statement as influential as Australia’s Climate Council did after the government in that country gutted its programs when Tony Abbott became Premier back in 2013. In the case of the Climate Council, a crowdfunding campaign raised $800,000 AU initially to get off the ground. The organization continues to receive private donations to fund its work.

Other than launching a crowdfunding campaign, the new EPN may find financial help from the Environmental Funders Network (EFN). This not-for-profit is a network of trusts, foundations, and individuals founded in 2003 and focused on supporting environmental causes.

 


Len Rosen lives in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He is a researcher and writer who has a fascination with science and technology. He is married with a daughter who works in radio, and a miniature red poodle who is his daily companion on walks of discovery.
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