Paul Hebert: Maintain environmental safeguards in Colorado | SteamboatToday.com

Paul Hebert: Maintain environmental safeguards in Colorado

As soon as Scott Pruitt was confirmed as the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, anyone who cares about the environment knew there was going to be trouble.

As the attorney general of Oklahoma, the new secretary had sued the EPA 17 times, and many of the lawsuits were still pending when he took office. He came into the job with a mission, and he is moving quickly to reverse as many regulations as possible.

He appointed deputies from fossil fuel and petrochemical corporations and lobby groups opposed to EPA regulation. At the same time he did away with many EPA positions occupied by trained scientists and disposed of the scientific groups that provided peer review for the EPA contractors.

More than two dozen regulations are on Pruitt's hit list and many will escape our notice because they will not make headline news. Several of those regulations affect global warming or climate change.

Pruitt does not believe in climate change, a term his agency is not allowed to use. He seems to believe the concern about global warming is all political and has a plan to "de-politicize" the issue.

He is putting together a "red team' of climate change dissenters to challenge the conclusions reached by thousands of scientists over decades of research on climate change. The idea of a red team comes from the military and is defined by the Department of Defense as, "an organizational element comprised of trained and educated members that provide an independent capability to fully explore alternatives in plans and operations in the context of the operational environment and from the perspective of adversaries and others."

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His "red team" begins with the premise that humans and our actions do not contribute to the health of the planet. But as Christine Todd Whitman, former head of the EPA put it, "… the basic physics of the climate are well understood. Burning fossil fuels emits carbon dioxide. And carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas that traps heat in the atmosphere. There is no debate about that. The link is as certain as the link between smoking and cancer."

Pruitt's efforts are guaranteed to further politicize rather than de-politicize the issue. This is one more way to waste time and money and confuse the public in order to satisfy big contributors at the expense of the rest of us.

As concerned Coloradans, write or call your representatives to insist that Colorado maintains and enhances our fight to uphold hard fought for environmental regulations and to insure our state is in the forefront promoting clean energy initiatives.

Paul Hebert, PhD, environmental engineer

Steamboat Springs

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