The Trump administration has gone out of its way to deny the existence of climate change and bury science warning of extraordinary risks associated with failing to take mitigative governmental action.
Of course, the administration’s malicious attacks on science, safety, and the environment don’t make the threats any less pervasive. A new report by the Associated Press found that 327 toxic Superfund sites across the country are located in areas “prone to flooding or vulnerable to sea-level rise caused by climate change.” Some 2 million people live within a mile of these sites in about 800,000 homes.
Many of the Superfund sites “are located in low-lying, densely populated urban areas,” the AP reported, especially in FL, NJ, and CA. These states have the most sites, with the greatest number of people living near them. Of course, they are mostly located in low–income neighborhoods and communities of color.
The Obama administration, which not only was a strong believer in climate science, but also took a leadership role in addressing mitigation issues, had begun reviewing climate and environmental trends at each Superfund site, the AP notes. But according to one official who until 2013 was the associate director of a division at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency tasked with managing Superfund site cleanup, “The current administration appears to be trying to erase these efforts in their climate change denials, which is a shame.”
In bed with polluters, EPA administrator and climate change denier Scott Pruitt came under fire for his handling of environmental threats after floodwaters devastated the Houston metropolitan area in the wake of Hurricane Harvey in late August and early September. Pruitt went to war with the AP in an attempt to discredit the news agency’s reporting at the time, which included coverage of TX Superfund sites that hadn’t been inspected by the EPA when reporters showed up to examine them.
Pruitt did create a task force to gather a list of sites that were of the highest priority for cleanup, but as the AP notes, “His task force’s 34-page report makes no mention of the flood risk to Superfund sites from stronger storms or rising seas, but eight of the 21 sites on EPA’s priority list are in areas of flood risk.”
Yet, the Trump administration has been trying to simultaneously cut Superfund program funding for the fiscal year, which began last October, by a third, the AP reported. Congress hasn’t yet approved that action, which an EPA spokesman used as a defense to questions posed by the news agency.
That same spokesman also attacked the Associated Press, accusing its journalists of “fear-mongering.”