Alaska Brief Newsletter — March 2017
An attack on science, good deeds stick, see polar bears in the wild!
Scott Pruitt’s attack on science is an attack on our communities. When the head of the Environmental Protection Agency undermines science, he prioritizes business interests over public health. He puts the financial burden of pollution on the public rather than on those who pollute. He puts more cash in the pockets of industry CEOs while allowing companies to put toxins in our water and air.
Unbelievably, the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Science and Technology Policy no longer has the word “science” in the paragraph describing what it does. For decades, this office has been developing science-based, scientifically peer-reviewed water quality standards. These standards set safe levels of pollutants in water used for drinking, swimming, and fishing.
Taking the “science” out of its work allows the EPA to remove the standards that protect us. Don’t we want and deserve clean water? Don’t we want to protect the health of our families and communities?
Science supports the laws that protects us
It took decades of hard work to ensure the health of our air and water, and to protect ourselves from chemical pollutants through the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, Superfund, and other statutes. Science supported these laws.
Science also tells us why the earth is warming so quickly. The International Panel on Climate Change and hundreds of individual scientists have shown that global temperatures are rising and there has been a significant and historically unprecedented spike in atmospheric carbon dioxide since 1950. Thousands of scientists have concluded that these trends are related, and that our leaders must develop policies that reduce greenhouse gases.
Yet, our new Environmental Protection Agency chief, Scott Pruitt, denies the basic science of climate change without evidence or merit, and despite research and expertise from scientists around the globe. Despite, in fact, the U.S. Supreme Court’s conclusion that the EPA can regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act, and the EPA’s subsequent announcement in 2009 that carbon dioxide and five other greenhouse gases endanger public health and welfare.
Oil and gas companies accept the truth of climate change science
We are talking about a habitable planet, here: the health of the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat, and the land and communities we call home.
Even fossil fuel companies have accepted the truth of climate change and the science that links it to human activity, though some of them have concealed it and tried to put it in doubt. After all, acknowledging industry as a cause of a warming planet means holding it accountable for spending money to control emissions and protect Americans.
Meanwhile, dozens of military leaders have urged the President to consider climate change a threat to national and international security. Yet the people selected to lead our agencies deny the facts.
What will we tell our children?
Pruitt’s views in particular endanger us all. They serve the interests of the fossil fuel industry to which he has close ties. This is not just a disagreement about principles. Pruitt misstates facts and misleads the American people to benefit a powerful industry that lines the pockets of politicians.
Want to know the truth about climate change and our warming planet? Listen to science. It tells us that warming imperils us all, and that removing rules or undermining policies that address greenhouse gas emissions will harm the poor first, many of them in rural communities from India to Patagonia, from Florida to Alaska.
As sea levels rise, coastal communities and multi-million dollar houses will be literally under water. That is a threat to national and international security.
It is foolhardy and wrong to meet the profit desires of industry by jettisoning the rules and policies that protect the health of all Americans and communities. How will we explain this shortsighted, misguided response to a real threat to our children and grandchildren?
For Alaska, #WePersist!
PS: Your support of Trustees for Alaska is critical now more than ever.
Observing wild polar bears in their natural habitat is truly a remarkable experience. Now, you can join a trip exclusively offered by Trustees for Alaska this fall and spend four days seeing bears in Arctic waters.
Once a Trustees intern, Alaska attorney Matt Mead knows first hand that the free legal services and counsel provided by Trustees gives voice to Alaska’s conservation and Native communities. That is why Matt donates a portion of his Permanent Fund Dividend to Trustees through Pick.Click.Give.