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The importance of governmental transparency and the EPA

Katrina Meyer, Sports Editor

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There have been a lot of crazy headlines in the news over the last year. It is almost as though we have become numb to hearing the craziest headlines in the news. The campaign that Donald Trump ran was full of promises and statements designed to be inflammatory and outside the political norm. There is outrage for a few days or even weeks when something is especially controversial, but it seems like most matters are just swept away a few days later when another big story hits the news. That has been the pattern of news today which makes it very difficult to stay informed on the changes and policy reform happening in the administration.

The latest in a line of disturbing headlines was an interview where the new Head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Scott Pruitt stated that there has not been enough research done on the impact of human activity on climate change. This lack of a conclusion means that the man who is in charge of protecting the environment is not sure that the environment needs to be saved from anything in particular that humans are doing. Unfortunately, this comment is in line with remarks that Trump has made previously about climate change, such as when he said that climate change was a hoax started by the Chinese. This announcement of uncertainty comes along with announcements that the Environmental Protection Agency is going to be undertaking large budget cuts, so it is unclear whether any funding will be available to conduct such research.

Pruitt’s statement does seem to be largely in line with the Trump administration’s stance on climate change. Trump has been working hard to repeal most of Obama’s advances to help control climate change. The most symbolic of these acts is Trump’s moves to remove the United States from the Paris Agreement on climate. This is very discouraging for the future of the planet. It is also not an acceptable stance for the President of the United States or the head of the EPA. The overwhelming majority of scientists and scientific data has agreed that climate change is happening and is a legitimate threat. The evidence is all around us. Temperatures that make us think it’s April or May were evident even in Decorah this February. My home town in the northwest Chicago suburbs set a record for the longest start to a year without snow on record. We can already see the changes that are taking place and these changes are likely to continue and increase in severity as time continues.

The most frustrating part of these policy changes is that they are done in such an executive way. Climate change was not a top issue in the campaign. It got glossed over by the current of other campaign declarations and promises. Now that he has been elected, Trump has been able to make controversial appointments like Scott Pruitt. Despite protest, a man who has repeatedly sued the Environmental Protection Agency is now running it. Just like the comments doubting humanity’s role in climate change, Pruitt’s appointment was swept up in another wave of controversial appointments. The people making these decisions are not of our generation. They will not face the same consequences of climate change as we will. Yet they are the people making decisions that will have a huge impact on our future.

We need to be more aware of what is happening. With our future in the hands of someone who has made us all become accustomed to crazy stories, we have to try to keep our government accountable. We cannot allow ourselves to get swept up in the tide of craziness and allow some issues to fall by the wayside. Especially in a community where we are surrounded by such beautiful nature and where we make a point to take care of that nature, we also have to do our part politically. The first step is to stay informed. We need to know what is happening in the EPA and the White House and then voice our informed opinions. That is the essence of a democracy. We do not have to let the administration stun us into silence over important issues that affect our future. By keeping informed and making our voices heard, we can ensure that we still have some say on important issues.

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