President Trump released his proposed FY 2018 federal budget today. Sierra Club, Illinois Chapter Director Jack Darin released this statement about the proposed budget for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency:
“President Trump’s proposed budget for the EPA is a plan only polluters could love. Trump wants to slash funding for enforcing clean air and water laws, shut down the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and Office of Environmental Justice, and penalize states that improve environmental safeguards.
We need to kill this plan before it starts to kill us. The scientists, engineers, and other career professionals are calling this budget a “death sentence.” The Great Lakes region must unite to defend ourselves against this broad attack on our health, our resources, and our communities. We call on members of Congress, Governors, and local leaders in both parties to pledge their support for our Great Lakes environment, and their opposition to Trump’s attacks on the EPA and our environmental safeguards. As the Trump Administration steps back from their responsibility to protect our communities, states will need to step up efforts to enforce environmental laws and upgrade standards to ensure we make progress against pollution, not the great leaps backward threatened by Trump’s proposal.”
EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s trip to Chicago today failed to ease grave concerns about the potential impact of unprecedented budget cuts and the Agency’s direction under his leadership.
Apparently Pruitt had time to take in a ball game this afternoon at Wrigley Field, but no time or interest in meeting with employees at the EPA Region 5 office in Chicago. He also ignored requests to meet with community groups concerned about lead contamination in the East Chicago housing project he drove past.
With rumors swirling that the EPA may completely close the regional office here, proposed devastating cuts, and Pruitt’s history of attacking the agency he now leads, it would have been a very good time to meet with employees and assure them that their jobs, and the mission of the EPA, are safe. A group of EPA workers invited Pruitt to lunch, but received no response. They gathered at the regional headquarters in case he showed up, but were met with an empty chair.
Region 5 EPA workers had hoped to meet with Administrator Pruitt during his Chicago visit
If Pruitt had taken the time to meet the women and men of EPA’s regional office here, he would have found dedicated professionals who have made it their life’s work to protect us all, but who now are worried about whether they will be able to do their jobs. Pruitt could learn a lot about the great work EPA has done in our region to clean up the Great Lakes, improve our air quality, encourage clean energy, and created good jobs in clean technologies, and how President Trump’s policies and budget proposal threaten to decimate the EPA and the communities here who depend on it. Instead, he took the afternoon off and headed to Wrigley.
You can’t beat a day at the ballpark, but Scott Pruitt is striking out when it comes to his job of keeping Americans safe from pollution.
For more on Pruitt’s adventures in our area today, see this summary.