Christine Todd Whitman, president of the Whitman Strategy Group, was the E.P.A. administrator from 2001 to 2003 and the governor of New Jersey from 1994 to 2001. Photo: EPABy Christine Todd Whitman
8 September 2017

(The New York Times) – I have been worried about how the Environmental Protection Agency would be run ever since President Trump appointed Scott Pruitt, the former attorney general of Oklahoma, to oversee it. The past few months have confirmed my fears. The agency created by a Republican president 47 years ago to protect the environment and public health may end up doing neither under Mr. Pruitt’s direction.

As a Republican appointed by President George W. Bush to run the agency, I can hardly be written off as part of the liberal resistance to the new administration. But the evidence is abundant of the dangerous political turn of an agency that is supposed to be guided by science.

The E.P.A.’s recent attack on a reporter for The Associated Press and the installation of a political appointee to ferret out grants containing “the double C-word” are only the latest manifestations of my fears, which mounted with Mr. Pruitt’s swift and legally questionable repeals of E.P.A. regulations — actions that pose real and lasting threats to the nation’s land, air, water and public health.

All of that is bad enough. But Mr. Pruitt recently unveiled a plan that amounts to a slow-rolling catastrophe in the making: the creation of an antagonistic “red team” of dissenting scientists to challenge the conclusions reached by thousands of scientists over decades of research on climate change. It will serve only to confuse the public and sets a deeply troubling precedent for policy-making at the E.P.A. […]

As a Republican like Mr. Pruitt, I too embrace the promise of the free market and worry about the perils of overregulation. But decisions must be based on reliable science. The red team begins with his politically preferred conclusion that climate change isn’t a problem, and it will seek evidence to justify that position. That’s the opposite of how science works. True science follows the evidence. The critical tests of peer review and replication ensure that the consensus is sound. Government bases policy on those results. This applies to liberals and conservatives alike. […]

Policy should always be rooted in unbiased science. The E.P.A. is too important to treat like a reality TV show. People’s lives and our country’s resources are at stake. Mr. Pruitt should respect his duty to the agency’s mission, end the red team and call on his agency’s scientists to educate him. No doubt they’re willing and eager to impart the knowledge they’ve dedicated their lives to understanding.

If this project goes forward, it should be treated for what it is: a shameful attempt to confuse the public into accepting the false premise that there is no need to regulate fossil fuels. [more]

Christine Todd Whitman: How Not to Run the E.P.A.

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