Judith Enck: Make America Dirty Again

Feb 13, 2018

Barely a day goes by without learning about yet another anti- environmental policy belching out of the Trump Administration.

A huge amount of damage has been done in just one year. 

While the President has only had one major big win in Congress (the corporate tax cut), the U.S Senate has confirmed a rogues gallery of climate deniers to head key federal agencies.

Scott Pruitt sued EPA 14 times before being named the head of the EPA.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is damaging our national parks.

Energy Secretary Rick Perry, whose predecessor was a Nobel prize winner, is attempting to prop up the failing coal and nuclear industries.  I liked him better when he was a contestant on dancing with the stars.

These guys, and all of them are guys, take their marching orders from the fossil fuel and chemical industry and are working overtime to roll back essential environmental programs.

In this past year, EPA Administrator Pruitt has withdrawn 20 major EPA environmental protection regulations.

An additional 47 EPA regulations are in the process of being withdrawn.

These regulations help ensure that our families have clean drinking water, that chemical plants do not explode, that farmworkers and consumers are not exposed to pesticides on our food.

And now, we are facing one of the worst Trump Administration proposals is to open up our ocean to offshore oil and gas drilling, including off of New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke announced that he wants to open up 90% of the nation’s coastal waters to oil and gas drilling, reversing President Obama’s ban on drilling in most US coastal waters.

Not only does this decision threaten our marine environment and the fishing and tourism industries -  it would also make climate change worse.

The earth is warming at an unprecedented rate.

2016 was the hottest year on record, and 2017 the second hottest.

Burning more fossil fuels, whether extracted from under the ocean or from the land, will bring us stronger hurricanes, increase sea level rise and threaten the health of people who are vulnerable to extreme heat.

Investing in offshore wind is a much better alternative to offshore oil and gas drilling.

Last time I checked, there was no such thing as a wind spill.

Governor Cuomo recently outlined a plan for offshore wind turbines in the Atlantic Ocean.

What can we do?  Florida Governor Rick Scott made such a ruckus that Interior Secretary Zinke exempted Florida from drilling.  Governor Scott argued that Florida is unique, with its coasts heavily reliant on tourism as an economic driver.  New York and other states can make the very same case.

The Dept. of Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management will hold a public meeting in Albany this Thursday, February 15th, from 3 to 7pm at the Albany Hilton in Albany. 

If you cannot attend in person, you can submit comments no later than March 9th by going to www.boem.gov

For those of us who care about climate change, clean energy, oceans and the marine environment, this is a key moment to be heard.

Judith Enck is an environmental leader who has served in top positions in New York State government and is a former EPA Regional Administrator. You can follow her on twitter at @Enckj

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