With the resignation of embattled Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator Scott Pruitt, the agency is now under the leadership of deputy Andrew Wheeler who needs to move the EPA past the scandals of his predecessor and pursue the Administration’s agenda.
Picking up where Pruitt left off on cutting wasteful EPA animal tests is one area where Wheeler can quickly find broad bipartisan support from liberty-lovers and animal-lovers alike.
Back in April, to coincide with tax week, our 400,000-member taxpayer watchdog group White Coat Waste Project (WCW) exposed how the EPA subjects 20,000 bunnies, mice and other animals annually to contrived tests that include making them eat lard to induce obesity and then forcing them to inhale diesel exhaust, smog and ozone for hours and days on end to allegedly assess the harmful health effects of air pollution.
In a Daily Caller interview about the controversial studies, Steve Milloy, a member of Donald Trump’s EPA transition team, said:
“Mice are not little people when it comes to studying the potential health effects, like cancer, of low-level exposures to chemicals in the environment … Generally, in order to demonstrate that a chemical can cause cancer in a rodent or other lab animal, the researcher will have to literally almost poison the animal.” Former Trump adviser Roger Stone also skewered the studies, writing, “The EPA’s animal tests are as dumb as they sound. They’re also dangerous because their misleading results may be used as a basis for flawed public health and regulatory decisions that harm people and industry.”
The hardworking taxpayers who are being forced to foot the bill for this waste and abuse are fed up. A February 2018 Lincoln Park Strategies poll of 1,000 voters found that an astounding 79 percent of Republicans and 68 percent of Democrats support efforts to cut federal spending on EPA’s animal testing.
Over 55,000 taxpayers have already taken action at EPASucks.org, WCW’s online advocacy campaign, to urge the EPA and Congress to cut funding for these wasteful animal tests that scientists and the EPA itself acknowledge are slow, costly and ineffective. Former Senator Tom Coburn’s (R-Okla.) organization Pursuit also joined WCW to highlight EPA’s problematic animal tests and other reckless EPA spending.
To their credit, Republican and Democratic lawmakers heard loud and clear from their constituents, and several quickly sprang into action to curb this waste and abuse.
Leading EPA critic Congressman Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) slammed the animal tests in a speech to the House of Representatives, remarking in a now-viral video, “Mr. Speaker, we find a lot of ways to waste money in this town, but the EPA may have just reached a new low.”
And last month, Congress members David Joyce (R-Ohio) and Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) cosponsored an amendment that was successfully passed by the House Appropriations Committee urging the EPA to reduce in-house animal testing exposed by WCW.
Even while Scott Pruitt was receiving hefty criticism for lavish spending, secrecy and conflicts of interest, he maintained his commitment to “EPA’s goal of reducing the use of animals and increasing the use of cutting-edge science in chemical testing” and took laudable steps to minimize unnecessary animal testing mandates for the private sector. But the agency needs to reform its own antiquated testing practices too.
The right and left rarely see eye-to-eye about the EPA. But voters and lawmakers from across the political spectrum overwhelmingly agree that the EPA shouldn’t be spending millions of taxpayers’ dollars to subject bunnies and other animals to misleading, outdated and deadly lab experiments.
Acting administrator Andrew Wheeler should seize this opportunity to reform the EPA and begin to repair its reputation by cutting wasteful government spending that harms animals, taxpayers, industry and the environment.
Anthony Bellotti is the founder and president of White Coat Waste Project. Bellotti previously worked as a strategist on Republican candidate and issue campaigns and was executive director of the American Association of Political Consultants.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.