In one of two moves that sparked outrage from the environmental community this week, President Trump (R) signed House Joint Resolution 38 that protects streams against pollution from coal mining. That came prior to the confirmation of climate change denier Scott Pruitt as the new head of the Environmental Protection Agency. Both actions sparked (not unanticipated) anger from the environmental community as Trump tries to make coal power more competitive with renewable energy.
The Stream Protection Rule (SPR) was a hard fought rule that was based on eight years of work by the Office of Surface Mining. The rule, which went into effect last year, incorporated input from more than 100,000 public comments, the Sierra Club stated. It ensured community access to clean water throughout the US, regardless of community wealth and put the onus on polluters, like coal mines, to ensure the safety of their operations.
The Trump administration championed its divisive action calling it costly. It stated, among other things, that: “The regulation was expected to reduce coal production, leading to fewer coal jobs across the country.” And that “the blocked regulation threatened the coal industry with millions of dollars in compliance costs.”
“With a stroke of his pen, Donald Trump just ensured that one of his first actions as President was to let coal companies dump pollution in our streams and rivers,” retorted Dalal Aboulhosn, the Sierra Club’s deputy legislative director for Land and Water. “Trump didn’t try to combat poverty, lower the cost of healthcare, or ensure better opportunities for our families with his first actions as President. Instead, he destroyed science-based clean water protections that would have stopped coal companies from dumping unlimited toxic waste into waterways used for fishing, drinking water, and agriculture.”
The reaction to the appointment of Pruitt was also marked by ire. Already more than 500 business leaders had spoken out against his nomination.
“Scott Pruitt is now set to be the most dangerous EPA Administrator in the history of our country,” said Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune. "Pruitt has taken millions of dollars from corporate polluters, and has protected their interests at every turn—yet, he is now in charge of protecting our children from the dirty air and toxic water created by these very same polluters. Pruitt has a long record of ignoring science, assaulting public health safeguards, and holding the agency he now leads in contempt. His confirmation is an environmental and public health disaster.”
Brune also called into question the Senate’s action while awaiting answers over an email controversy. “This is a vote that should not even have happened, given the unanswered questions about Pruitt's hidden e-mails with fossil fuel companies that a judge has ordered to be released next week.”
Brune vowed action: “Sierra Club and its 2.7 million members and supporters will continue to mobilize and resist this corrupt administration’s attacks on public health, clean air, and clean water every step of the way.”Tweet