Trump Intentionally Damages Government Agency.
During the campaign, Donald Trump promised to “get rid of” the Environmental Protection Agency “in almost every form” and leave it in “little tidbits.” He’s begun to make good on that pledge during his first few months in office by putting climate change deniers in charge, bringing Obama-era regulations to a standstill and asking Congress to slash the agency’s budget by a third.
With Scott Pruitt at the helm, climate change data has been scrubbed from the EPA’s website and the science advisory board has been replaced by a cadre of industry lobbyists, eager to turn the EPA into Trump’s very own Ministry of Truth. As Trump brags about the number of regulations he’s already destroyed, it’s worth remembering that every single one of those regulations was there for a reason. No one sat down and said, “You know, we really need to have a rule against this thing that never happens.” They addressed known problems.
The hostility extends beyond just smashing the rules that keep air and water clean. It’s a deep-seated hatred of anyone who is actually working for the American public.
Trump’s appointees left career staffers out of the loop and planned photo-ops in a way that would antagonize staff, inviting coal baron Robert Murray and other agency foes to attend Trump’s and Pruitt’s events.
Typically, when presidents or vice presidents visit EPA headquarters to give a speech, they’ve used the opportunity to highlight the work the EPA does, not to reprimand employees. Trump’s visit to sign an executive order in March was different. Few if any staffers were invited to attend the speech where Trump, surrounded by coal miners, declared the agency’s supposed war on coal to be over. “Nobody was invited to [Trump’s visit to EPA HQ] which was as in your face, insulting thing as I’ve experienced in my time here,” one person says in the report
Trump came to the EPA not to acknowledge its work, but to destroy it.
The Trump EPA goes beyond the normal definition of a “hostile work environment.” Trump and Pruitt are hostile to the whole agency, to its purpose, and to the people who work there.
And it’s not as if the agency was in great shape when Trump arrived. Despite Republicans acting as if the Obama administration had launched some sort of environmentalist jihad, the truth is that the Republican-led Congress had been cutting the agency’s budget, year, after year, after year. In fact, the EPA budget under Obama never came close to the levels under George W. Bush.
Six years of cuts left the EPA much smaller on Obama’s last day than it was on his first. Trump isn’t paring back an overgrown agency at its height. He’s shattering an agency that Republicans had already deliberately starved to limit its utility.
That’s left the career staff stretched thin with more work than ever, even as they face significant new tasks, such as implementing the toxic chemicals law Congress passed last year. Meanwhile, Pruitt has been making promises that could be impossible to keep if Trump manages to get most of his budget cuts: At a House budget hearing last week, he told concerned Republicans that despite the proposed funding cuts, he’d still fulfill the agency’s responsibilities for hazardous waste cleanup, Great Lakes restoration, and other work.
In making these promises, Pruitt is simply following Trump’s lead. Because Trump not only promised to kill the EPA, he also promised “perfectly clean air” and “sparkling water.”