An Environmental Protection Agency official with thirty years on the job quit last week with a letter to EPA chief Scott Pruitt that left no doubt the reason for his resignation—Pruitt’s leadership and the Trump administration.
Michael Cox served as a climate change adviser to EPA’s Region 10, covering Alaska, Washington, Oregon, and Idaho. Trump is defunding the agency by 31%, laying off 25% of its employees, and axing fifty-six programs—including two that focus on protecting children from lead. His letter states, in part:
I have worked under six administrations with political appointees leading EPA from both parties. This is the first time I remember staff openly dismissing and mocking the environmental policies of an administration and by extension you.
You will continue to undermine your credibility and integrity with EPA staff, and the majority of the public, if you continue to question this basic science of climate change.
Post columnist Joe Davidson spoke with several EPA staffers throughout the country, who confirmed that the mood at the agency was grim—so much so that they requested anonymity for fear of retaliation.
“It is pretty bleak,” said one environmental engineer.
“It’s in the dumps,” said another.
Cox’s letter continued:
I, and many staff, firmly believe the policies this administration is advancing are contrary to what the majority of the American people, who pay our salaries, want EPA to accomplish, which are to ensure the air their children [breathe] is safe; the land they live, play, and hunt on to be free of toxic chemicals; and the water they drink, the lakes they swim in, and the rivers they fish in to be clean.
He outlined a number of reasons morale has plummeted at the agency, including Pruitt’s denial of climate science—which he called “shocking”—as well as the administration’s antagonistic tone and “openly hostile” political appointees.
What do you think of Cox’s resignation letter?
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