Freezing out science at EPA

Freezing out science at EPA
By: Rep. Salud Carbajal | 10/22/2018

Recent reports indicate the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator plans to eliminate the Office of Science Advisor, which counsels the agency head on the scientific implications of his policy decisions. This is a stark indication of where the Trump Administration stands on making informed, fact-base decisions when writing the rules to protect our clean air and water. 

Science is out, and coal lobbyists are in. 

Early on in the Trump Presidency, the Environmental Protection Agency removed significant climate change research and information from its website. This censorship is particularly troubling as the Central Coast continues to face the effects of extreme weather events – including severe drought conditions in San Luis Obispo and record-breaking wildfires across California.

Our community strongly values our environment and public health, I will not remain silent while this Administration and Republican majority ignores the disastrous impacts of climate change, repeals protections that keep our air and water healthy, and opens our public lands for oil drilling and fracking.

I introduced the Climate Change is Real Act with the support of my Republican colleague Congressman Curbelo from Florida. The bill requires the EPA Administrator to reinstate information about climate change that was removed from, or redacted on, the agency’s website.

The decision to remove the Office of Science comes on the heels of a quietly released report by National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) that shows on our current path, the planet will warm an additional seven degrees by the end of the century. Rather than use this alarming data to spur further reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, the Trump Administration is using these findings to support their decision repealing federal car emissions standards, arguing the policy won’t make a big enough dent on its own to avert climate disaster.  

And they’re right, one policy decision alone will not solve the problem. But the path to addressing climate change is through numerous small changes. We owe our children and grandchildren much more than just throwing up our hands in resignation. 

California has long led the way in taking bold action to combat climate change at the state level and our economy is strengthened by prioritizing innovation in clean energy production over fossil fuel investments.

In San Luis Obispo, with PG&E’s decision to close the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Powerplant, we have an opportunity to establish the Central Coast’s position as a leader on renewable energy and bring more jobs to our region. To help achieve this as well as mitigate some of the impacts of this closure, I have introduced federal legislation that provides federal tax credits for renewable energy producers in San Luis Obispo County. The Energy Opportunity Zones Act will help jumpstart an influx of renewable energy production, including attracting business that have proposed floating wind turbines off the coast of Morro Bay.

While we work to address contributing factors to climate change, like greenhouse gas emissions, we must also prepare for its inevitable effects. 

Improving the resiliency our infrastructure on the Central Coast will create jobs and grow our economy in the short term, while also making our communities safer and our entire economy stronger in the long term. I’m proposing a new EPA grant program introduced in the Water Infrastructure Resiliency and Sustainability Act that will encourage coastal communities to adapt and strengthen water-related infrastructure. Natural disasters, like the one we experienced during the Montecito Debris Flow, show us the importance of building resilient infrastructure as we grapple with the effects of climate change and an ongoing drought crisis.

The challenges and impacts of climate are significant, but not insurmountable, and we can’t afford to ignore them any longer.

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