Former employees critique EPA under Trump in new report

Former employees critique EPA under Trump in new report
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A group of former Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) employees has released a report condemning the direction the agency has gone under President TrumpDonald John TrumpProtesters tear down statue of Christopher Columbus in Baltimore 'Independence Day' star Bill Pullman urges Americans to wear a 'freedom mask' in July 4 PSA Protesters burn American flag outside White House after Trump's July Fourth address MORE

In the report released early Thursday, the group called Save EPA wrote that the Trump administration has been relentless in its efforts to “roll back public health and environmental protections, weaken enforcement of those protections, and cripple EPA’s capacity to address new and existing problems.”

“Virtually all the changes that Trump has made have one thing in common: They help polluters and harm the public, now and in the future,” the report said. 

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The report also documented what it described as a “slowing down” of enforcement. It said that in 2018, the number of inspections or evaluations to determine legal compliance was less than 60 percent of the annual average since 2001 and that the number of criminal cases opened was about a third of the levels reported between 2008 and 2013. 

It particularly critiqued the EPA’s actions with regard to climate change and pollution controls and its handling of science and laid out dozens of changes made by the agency over the past several years. 

“When it comes to setting back public health and environmental protection, Trump has been relentlessly thorough,” said a statement from Ellen Kurlansky, a former analyst in the EPA’s clean air program and report co-author. 

An agency spokesperson, however, told The Hill in an email that under Trump, it has provided “certainty for states, tribes, and local governments that implement EPA’s rule.”

“We continue to encourage revitalization in the communities that need it most through investment in Opportunity Zones, and we are listening to the communities forgotten by the Obama-Biden Administration,” the spokesperson said, adding that the agency would hope that its alumni “use their experience and expertise to support the Agency’s mission and talented public servants rather than push political propaganda like this report.”

The spokesperson also touted some of the agency’s accomplishments in recent years such as deleting all or part of 27 Superfund cleanup sites from the priorities list last year and getting commitments for the cleanup of 68,000 cubic yards of contaminated soil and water.