In late summer, I would swim and stream-walk a small section of the Raccoon River. While sedimented for decades now, the water was clear in the shallows. For a few years now, the water is pea-green from edge-to-edge. For decades and worse now, this water has strongly contributed to a vast hypoxia zone in the Gulf.

In the 1980s, I wrote about the wisdom of the river, focusing on the Des Moines River as a living, very open metaphor for the essential streaming dynamic of the universe that is within us as well in the streaming of our body metabolism and thought.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Coming Federal Disaster: Say One Thing, Do The Opposite

New, abrupt and broad federal changes in environmental policy will degrade air and water that mock Trump’s stated intent to promote clean air and water. Changes in the departments of Energy, Interior and Environmental Protection ill broadly de-regulate  limits on use and open access to natural resources as well as sell public land.  The following is the complete March 3, 2017 DSM Register that focuses on coming wide-scale water and air degradation.

Editorial: President's speech spread fog and smog
The Register's Editorials 5:30 p.m. CT March 3, 2017

President Trump is 'promoting' deregulation, not clean air and water

On the surface, at least, there was much to admire about President Trump’s speech to Congress this week.

Unfortunately, many of the president’s words, while deserving of praise, don’t square with his actions. In that context, his address before a joint session of Congress should be considered an elaborately staged piece of performance art, not a speech.

It must have been easy, for example, for the president to tell Congress he intends to “promote clean air and clean water.” But to applaud the president’s words, you’d first have to ignore all of the actions he is taking that pose a direct threat to clean air and clean water.

Within hours of addressing Congress, Trump signed an executive order that initiates a rollback of one of the federal government’s most significant water-protection regulations: the Waters of the United States rule, which is intended to impose federal pollution limits not just on major bodies of water, but on the streams and wetlands that drain into those larger waters.

The president is also preparing to cut by 30 percent the Environmental Protection Agency’s funding for state grants and its federally administered air-and-water programs.

He is also poised to sign an executive order instructing the EPA to initiate the process of withdrawing climate-change regulations that would curb greenhouse gases emitted by coal-fired power plants.

And, of course, there’s the president’s campaign pledge to dismantle the EPA “in almost every form,” so that only “little tidbits” remain. Toward that end, Trump has appointed former Oklahoma attorney general Scott Pruitt, who has sued the EPA more than a dozen times, to lead — well, “destroy” is the more accurate word — the federal agency.

Scott Pruitt, President Donald Trump's controversial appointment to head the EPA, spelled out his vision for the agency at a key gathering of conservatives outside Washington, D.C. on Saturday. (Feb. 25) AP

Pruitt is dutifully complying, denouncing “regulations that in the near term need to be rolled back in a very aggressive way” and pursuing a plan to quickly eliminate one out of every five jobs in the agency.

Remember the president’s inaugural-address denunciation of the “rusted-out factories scattered like tombstones across the landscape of our nation?” Well, his preliminary budget for the EPA would eliminate grants to clean up contaminated brownfields and abandoned industrial sites, so you can expect to see even more of those tombstones.

As reported by the Washington Post, the EPA budget, which is still subject to revision, also calls on states to assume a far greater role in protecting air and water, but it does so while simultaneously cutting the federal grants that typically pay for such efforts.

Trump’s goal is to make U.S. manufacturing more competitive with nations like China, where the air quality contributes to 4,000 deaths per day and 80 percent of the underground wells contain water that’s unsafe to drink.

So why did the president tell Congress he is determined to “promote clean air and clean water”?

Probably because no politician in his right mind — yes, we're counting the president among that select group — would promote polluted air and toxic water. On top of that, polls show a majority of Americans believe environmental protection should be one of the president’s top priorities.

So, rather than tell Congress and a nationally audience of TV viewers that he is in the process of gutting the EPA and rolling back decades of regulations that protect the public health, Trump simply claimed he was doing just the opposite.

And with that, Congress stood and applauded.

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