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Former EPA Administrator Says Climate Report Leakers Should Be Thanked

Judith Enck
Former EPA Region 2 administrator Judith Enck

The former EPA regional administrator under President Obama says scientists who leaked the report on further evidence of climate change to the New York Timesshould be commended as “whistleblowers."

Judith Enck, who was with the EPA from 2009 until President Trump took office, says it’s important that the public see the report. Compiled by scientists at 13 federal agencies, it contains the results of thousands of studies showing that climate change caused by greenhouse gases is affecting weather in every part of the United States, causing average temperatures to rise dramatically since the 1980’s. Enck says those who leaked the report should be thanked for providing a public service.   

“I would refer to whoever did it as a whistleblower, not a leaker,” Enck said. “Tax dollars were spent putting this report together.”  

Enck says it’s also important that the draft report be seen, to protect against any potential watering down of its conclusions by the Trump administration.

The head of the EPA, Scott Pruitt, who is the former attorney general of Oklahoma, and who initiated several lawsuits against the EPA during the Obama administration, does not believe that carbon dioxide emissions cause climate change. The Secretary of Energy, former Texas Governor Rick Perry, agrees with Pruitt. President Trump pulled the U.S. of the nearly 200-nation Paris Climate Agreement to combat global warming.

Enck says morale among the scientists and other long time career staffers at the EPA is low and that they are “enormously discouraged”. A former colleague of Enck’s Dr. Elizabeth Southerland, who led the EPA’s Office of Water’s science and technology office, resigned earlier this month. She issued a scathing letter, saying in part “the environmental field is suffering from the temporary triumph of myth over truth." Enck says others at the regional offices find their proposals bottled up by top agency personnel in Washington, who delay making any decisions on how to proceed.  

“This is the worst time at the EPA in its 46-year history,” said Enck. “The Trump administration is very carefully and very deliberately taking EPA and other federal agencies apart bit by bit.”

Enck says Trump has proposed a 31 percent reduction in the EPA’s budget. She says even House Republicans have only proposed a seven percent cut to the environmental agency.

Conor Bambrick, with Environmental Advocates of New York, which lobbies New York state government on environmental issues, says he’s also happy that the climate change report was leaked.

“It’s really no surprise to us and to many, that the report says our climate is changing and humans are directly responsible,” Bambrick said.

Bambrick commends New York Governor Andrew Cuomo for setting “aggressive” goals for alleviating greenhouse gas emissions. After President Trump pulled out of the Paris Accord, Cuomo and other state governors and mayors of big cities across the country formed their own group to combat climate change, known as the U.S. Climate Alliance. He says now, Cuomo has to follow through on the plans.

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of public radio stations in New York state. She has covered state government and politics for the network since 1990.
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