Energy

Democrats Insist EPA Staffers Can Resist Trump’s Agenda

Democrats are insisting the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) career employees could continue their work on global warming under the Trump administration.

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy told The Christian Science Monitor (CSM) there’s no going back on global warming regulations, and one Democratic lawmaker has even urged the agency’s more than 15,000 employees to resist.

“This agency when this president came in really came out of the closet on climate,” McCarthy told CSM in an exclusive interview last week that was published Friday. “I have a senior team that’s great and the senior career staff that are here are just extraordinary. They are here because of this mission, and that will continue.”

“Even in the prior administration you had a lot of people in the agency that continued to do work on climate, even though that work was not visible,” McCarthy said. “The work continues in the agency.”

California Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer sent a letter to McCarthy and EPA employees urging them not to cave to pressure from Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, Trump’s pick to head the agency.

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“And remember this — the public stands with you!” wrote Boxer, who will retire in January. “In poll after poll, American voters are clear that they favor EPA’s efforts to address climate change, clean up the air, and protect the waterways that provide drinking water to 117 million Americans.”

“One of the reasons that these laws have been so successful is because they were based on the science,” she wrote. “You must continue your important work that is rooted in science and never be afraid to do so.”

The mood at EPA seems bleak, at least among researchers, many of whom have reportedly tendered their resignation rather than work under Pruitt.

“I’ve already heard there are a number of scientists who have put in their resignation letters, so you’re going to see a brain drain for sure,” Tracey Woodruff, a former EPA scientist who’s now at the University of California-San Francisco, told CSM.

Trump made rolling back EPA regulations a major part of his campaign, especially when talking to coal communities in Appalachia where federal regulations have made it harder to mine.

Trump named Pruitt as his pick to head EPA Wednesday. Pruitt’s nomination sent environmentalists into a tailspin since he’s challenged many key EPA regulations, including the agency’s Clean Power Plan.

“We have a fight on our hands and Republicans have to do a moral gut check and a political one,” Hawaii Democratic Sen. Brian Schatz said Thursday, hinting at a confirmation battle in January.

“This is absolutely a fight worth having and we’re ready for it,” Schatz said.

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