The Republican campaign to kill the EPA comes to Ann Arbor

On Monday at 2:45 PM, there will be a rally outside the Environmental Protection Agency’s National Vehicle and Fuel Emissions Laboratory (NVFEL) at 2565 Plymouth Road, in Ann Arbor. The event, as I understand it, is in response to the Trump administration’s threat to cut a whopping 31% of the EPA’s budget. At the Ann Arbor facility, it’s thought that these cuts, if they come to fruition, will translate to the loss of approximately 215 jobs, or about half of the national laboratory’s staff. This, as I’m sure you can appreciate, would not only be devastating for the families of those individuals who will lose their jobs, but to the mission of the NVFEL, which is the world’s premier environmental compliance and transportation research center… Here, to give you some sense of what that mission entails, is a brief overview from the Huron Valley Area Labor Federation.

…NVFEL oversees the world’s “gold standard” vehicle compliance and oversight program ensuring your cars are 99% cleaner than they were in 1970.

NVFEL brought VW to justice for cheating on emissions standards and obtained BILLIONS in penalties for the American consumer and the environment!

NVFEL has set historic standards that will nearly half the Greenhouse gases emitted from cars by 2025 and save the American consumer hundreds of billions of dollars in fuel costs…

And, of course, the Trump administration, which just today announced that at least five members of a major EPA scientific review board were being fired and replaced by representatives from industry, wants to stop the NVFEL from successfully pursuing that mission… Of course, that’s not what the American people want. According to recent polling 67% of Americans want the EPA to either be strengthened or maintain the same level of environmental protection. But that apparently doesn’t matter. If it did, Trump wouldn’t have appointed Scott Pruitt to be the head of the EPA… Not only did Pruitt close the Oklahoma’s Environmental Protection Unit shortly after being elected Attorney General of that state in 2010, but he actually filed 14 cases against the EPA on behalf of his donors while Attorney General. As journalist Bill Moyers said prior to Pruitt’s confirmation hearing, “Pruitt is Oklahoma’s Attorney General. His salary of more than $260,000 is paid by taxpayers, but Pruitt really works for the energy industry. He’s a political profiteer whose career in public office is built on taking money from corporations and doing their bidding.” And that’s what we’re seeing play out now on the national stage.

At any rate, if you’d like to join the local fight to save the EPA, and our planet, people will be gathering at 2:45 in front of the NVFEL, where a number of speakers, including Representative Debbie Dingell, will be talking about the the forces aligned against us and what we, as people who care about the future of humanity, need to do to combat them… And, if you can’t attend, at least make it a point to follow the Save EPA Ann Arbor twitter account, where, I’m assuming relevant information will be shared as it becomes available.

So, yeah, if you’re tired of just being pissed off in the abstract about what’s happening, here’s a concrete fight to engage in. This isn’t some remote laboratory on the west coast. This is right here, in our our back yard. And we need to stand up to protect it, and ensure that its work continues. We owe it to the next generation.

One last thing… I mentioned above that news came out today that members of an EPA scientific review board were terminated, and their jobs given to industry representatives. Well, here’s a clip from the New York Times.

The Environmental Protection Agency has dismissed at least five members of a major scientific review board, the latest signal of what critics call a campaign by the Trump administration to shrink the agency’s regulatory reach by reducing the role of academic research.

A spokesman for the E.P.A. administrator, Scott Pruitt, said he would consider replacing the academic scientists with representatives from industries whose pollution the agency is supposed to regulate, as part of the wide net it plans to cast. “The administrator believes we should have people on this board who understand the impact of regulations on the regulated community,” said the spokesman, J. P. Freire.

The dismissals on Friday came about six weeks after the House passed a bill aimed at changing the composition of another E.P.A. scientific review board to include more representation from the corporate world.

President Trump has directed Mr. Pruitt to radically remake the E.P.A., pushing for deep cuts in its budget — including a 40 percent reduction for its main scientific branch — and instructing him to roll back major Obama-era regulations on climate change and clean water protection. In recent weeks, the agency has removed some scientific data on climate change from its websites, and Mr. Pruitt has publicly questioned the established science of human-caused climate change…

I’m particularly struck by the phrase, “reducing the role of academic research.” Today it may just be 200 some employees of the NVFEL, but who knows were all of this will end? In a United States run by an administration looking to reduce the role of academic research, what happens to communities like Ann Arbor that are built on academic research?

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7 Comments

  1. Karl
    Posted May 8, 2017 at 8:18 am | Permalink

    there’s not going to be any end to this, is there?

    thank you to all the Jill Sten voters who said both major party candidates were essentially the same.

  2. Lynne
    Posted May 8, 2017 at 10:16 am | Permalink

    What happens to any community when their major industry goes into decline?

    At any rate, those are liberal jobs and thus are not important to anyone. No one even bothers to lie to us about saving those jobs in the way they lie to coal minors.

  3. Eel
    Posted May 8, 2017 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

    I think Republicans would love it if liberal university towns started to wither and die. Who gives a fuck that they’re curing cancer, giving us things like the internet and cellphones, etc. Fuck ’em.

  4. M
    Posted May 8, 2017 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

    I haven’t researched it yet, but I just read the following on Facebook.

    “So the president of France is encouraging US academics and researchers to move there…”

  5. M
    Posted May 8, 2017 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

    OK, it’s true. He’s been saying it for a few months now.

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/feb/04/emmanuel-macron-enjoins-uneasy-us-scientists-move-to-france

  6. video of debbie dingell
    Posted May 8, 2017 at 8:16 pm | Permalink

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p3YMu7PubGE&sns=tw

  7. Kim
    Posted May 9, 2017 at 9:51 am | Permalink

    The Free Press also had an article.

    http://www.freep.com/story/money/cars/2017/05/08/debbie-dingell-urges-trump-spare-epa-lab-budget-cuts/101431958/

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