Pruitt’s deregulation at the EPA threatens Gulf Coast ecosystems

In April 2010, the British Petroleum-affiliated drill site Deep Water Horizon experienced a cataclysmic oil spill, causing pollution on an unprecedented scale. The oil spill killed a large amount of marine life and harmed local fishing economies in incalculable ways, resulting in a record fine against BP of $20.8 billion to cover damages caused by the pollution.

Looking back on this moment, many people see the importance of regulation and the dangers of using such toxic resources as a method for energy production. Scott Pruitt, the new head of the Environmental Protection Agency, however, came to different conclusions. Hindsight is always 20-20. Looking back to eight years ago, Pruitt decided to learn from the mistakes of the past administration and right the only logical wrong in this entire story: the fine.

Because of the insight of the visionary that is Scott Pruitt — a man who not only has neither a degree nor a background in science, but also has openly fought against the EPA and denied climate science prior to his appointment — innocent companies will no longer suffer at the hands of the government after accidentally destroying an entire ecosystem.

Using his new regulatory position, Pruitt attempted to rectify this clear low point in our nation’s history by bypassing certain laws he deemed unimportant, like the Clean Water Act, and by allowing energy companies to dump toxic fracking waste in the Gulf of Mexico without any consideration of possible ecological and biological impacts.

This decision came as such a shock to those in the business of keeping the environment intact that organizations like the Center of Biological Diversity have teamed up and sued the EPA and Pruitt in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in hopes of dissuading the federal government from taking the environment behind the barn and shooting it in the head.

It is not a surprise the Trump Administration made this decision. It is just one choice in a long line of policy changes and executive orders that have allowed coal companies to dump in rivers, closed an EPA committee designated to keep arsenic out of baby food and opened up national parks for strip mining. What is surprising, however, is the blasé attitude with which Trump and Pruitt made this destructive decision.

One has to wonder if anyone inquired about adverse effects to local populations or if there was any deliberation about its impact on businesses that rely on fish from the Gulf.

Hearing this news, a group of 236 mayors, including Mayor Mitch Landrieu of New Orleans, has voiced its outrage about the EPA’s new apparent role of pollution accomplice. The EPA is hurting cities like New Orleans by both allowing the pollution of water and in standing silently by while climate change ravages coastal cities with floods and storms. This battle is clearly an uphill one but will hopefully help make the environmental issues less abstract and more about how to control the damage, something people are usually much more equipped to handle.

This is an opinion article and does not reflect the views of The Tulane Hullabaloo. Jonathan is a sophomore at Newcomb-Tulane College. He can be reached at [email protected]

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