I wonder if EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt thought no one would notice when he decided to ignore his agency's own scientists and greenlight continued use of Dow Chemical's brain-harming pesticide, chlorpyrifos. If so, he was in for quite a surprise.
It's been an interesting few weeks for those of us tracking food, farming and pesticide issues. Hard-to-pronounce chemicals like chlorpyrifos and dicamba have been making headlines, and a wonky legal victory that's flown largely under the radar could help close a dangerous loophole in our federal pesticide rules.
This increased public scrutiny and pressure can't be making the pesticide industry happy, but it's certainly good news for the rest of us.
As concerns about the Trump Administration's legitimacy continue to swirl, newly installed agency leaders are plowing ahead with their radical anti-regulatory agenda. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, for example, is now contemplating which pesticide rules should be rolled back — and he's asking the public to weigh in by next Monday, May 15.
Chlorpyrifos might not quite be a household word yet, but it's getting there. The story of the astonishing decision by EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt to reverse course on agency plans to pull this child-harming insecticide off the market has captured headlines across the country and around the world.
On Wednesday, Scott Pruitt signed his first official action as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The New York Times headline captures it well: "EPA Chief, Rejecting Agency's Science, Chooses Not to Ban Insecticide." Well, then.
Well then. If there was ever any doubt that the new administration's oft-stated commitment to "clean air and water" was insincere, there's no question now. Just as Trump was reading these hollow words in his address to Congress, his team was proposing draconian cuts to the agency whose job it is to protect our resources and health.
With dizzying speed, the new administration has set to work rolling back years of progress on public health protections, climate change, civil liberties and women's rights. They've moved to muzzle our public agencies and launch an all out war on science, a free press, indigenous lands, religious freedom, immigrants and the value of facts.
All of this in week one.
Our children's health is not negotiable. This is the message we need to send federal officials — loud and clear — as President Obama's EPA takes final comments on their proposal to withdraw almost all remaining uses of the brain-harming insecticide chlorpyrifos.
Ag ban long overdue
It's already taken much too long for the agency to do the right thing. Way back in 2001, science indicating that chlorpyrifos harms children's developing nervous system was strong enough to warrant agency action to ban all household uses of the chemical.
As questions about the legitimacy of the Trump presidency continue to emerge, the president-elect and his team are plowing forward with some astonishing choices to lead our federal agencies.
Like other public interest and social justice groups across the country, we're wrestling with exactly what the recent election means for our work going forward. This will take some time to sort, but one thing is already crystal clear: our efforts will be more challenging — and more critical — than ever before. We're ready.