by Mike Bryson
In this new era of administrative incompetence, mendacity, and malfeasance here in these United States, two federal departments stand out for their energetic actions to roll back policies and regulations developed over the past several decades: the EPA, led by industrial polluter advocate Scott Pruitt, who made a name for himself (#PollutingPruitt) suing the agency he now directs; and the Department of the Interior (DOI), headed by Ryan Zinke, whose twin goals appear to be shrinking the area of America’s public lands while opening up more of what remains to oil and gas drilling, mining, and for all I know, drag-racing.
Both men are notable examples of how the current administration has stacked its top-level leadership with people devoid of any semblance of environmental ethics, let alone knowledge about climate change, which is clearly one of the greatest threats to human health, economic sustainability, and political stability facing the global community today — something the likes of the US Military has long acknowledged.
The ongoing attack on climate science and policy by the White House as well as by the politically appointed leadership of the EPA is both well-documented and ongoing, and the most recent nauseating chapter of this sordid narrative is the breathtaking excision of any mention of climate change (there, I said it) from the EPA’s newly released Strategic Plan for 2018-2022, available for public review and comment here on the EPA website and here as a pdf. Citizens have until October 31st to submit a comment about this draft plan, and I urge them to do so as another expression of our civic obligations and privileges that include voting, communicating with our representatives, and protesting.
Not to be outdone, Zinke’s newly adulterated DOI has been busy writing its own backward-looking Strategic Plan, of which a late September internal draft was just leaked, as reported in The Nation today. This 50-page document fails to mention the terms climate change or climate science once, though it devotes plenty of text to oil and gas prospecting and mining — activities designed to return America to a state of “energy dominance.” While I do not know when an official public commenting period will open on this regressive document, it seems certain to generate plenty of discussion on social media for the time being.
The unfortunate takeaway from these strategic plans is this: while some within the current administration cannot write a coherent sentence, make a sincere phone call offering empathic condolence, or compose a balanced budget plan, two of our most ardent anti-environmentalists now in leadership positions are, to my chagrin, highly skilled bureaucrats hell-bent on eroding the foundations of their respective government units quietly, efficiently, and within the normal channels of operations. Their competence at and enthusiasm for doing so make it all the more imperative the public stay aware of what’s happening to the agencies charged with protecting our environmental resources and conserving public lands, lest they become indistinguishable from the industries they are charged with regulating.
Mike Bryson is Professor Sustainability Studies and Chair of the Department of Sociology, Sustainability, and Community Development at Roosevelt University.