When pleasing industry compulsively takes precedence over public interest
It’s gratifying to see EPA chief Stephen Johnson writhing under pressure to resign in disgrace. The agency is being hounded by lawsuits from states while Johnson faces perjury accusations from Congress. My question: what took so long?
Documenting the agency’s recent betrayals of the public interest would take a book, not a blog post. Myself, I’m still seething over last year’s decision to approve methyl iodide — a powerfully carcinogenic substance — for use on strawberry fields.
I don’t have the stamina to keep up with the EPA’s chronic foot-dragging on climate change, which will likely shape the historical legacy of the Johnson era.
Just this week, two pieces of news crossed my desk that underline the depravity of this EPA. By now, such offenses seem routine; they likely won’t merit a footnote in any final accounting of this EPA’s crimes against the public interest.
Exhibit A: The Environmental Working Group issued a report on the EPA’s approval of a anti-microbrial substance called triclosan in “140 different types of consumer products including liquid hand soap, toothpaste, undergarments [!] and children’s toys.”
According to EWG, triclosan “persists in the environment, breaks down into substances highly toxic to wildlife, pollutes the human body, and poses health risks that are barely studied and poorly understood.” Wonderful. And that’s not all:
This exposure has been allowed despite the fact that the chemical ends up in mothers’ breast milk and poses potential toxicity to fetal and childhood development.
EWG has sent a cogent letter beseeching the EPA to reconsider its decision. Unfortunately, the agency recieves such letters so routinely these days that Johnson is likely turning them into paper airplanes in his office while he awaits permission from on high to resign.
Exhibit B: As we reported Tuesday, the EPA received a stinging rebuke (or as, The Palm Beach Post put it, a “blistering attack”) from a federal judge in Florida for its mollycoddling of the state’s powerful sugar industry and its assault on the Everglades.
Evdently, the EPA looked the other way while Big Sugar fouled the Everglades homeland of the Miccosukee Indians. Reports AP:
[U.S. District Judge Alan] Gold repeatedly accused EPA of acting “arbitrarily and capriciously” in its failure to adhere to the mandates of the Clean Water Act. “Plaintiffs are correct,” Gold wrote, “that EPA has once again avoided its duty to protect the Everglades.”