by Joan Walker, MountainTrue Campaigns Director
On Wednesday April 12, MountainTrue staff met with Congressman Patrick McHenry’s Regional Representative, Roger Kumpf, to talk about some of our concerns with the Trump Administration’s spending and regulatory priorities. This is the second time we’ve met with the Congressman’s office this year, and we greatly appreciate the opportunity to raise our issues with Mr. McHenry and his staff.
We delivered the letter below, focusing on President Trump’s proposed 31% cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency — a reckless and extreme proposal that would endanger the health and wellbeing of communities across the country and right here in Western North Carolina. We outlined several instances where a strong and well-funded EPA protected the people of Congressman McHenry’s district and instances where he himself called on the EPA for help.
We will continue to raise the alarm with elected officials as long as our communities and environment remain under siege by this Administration. If you share any of these concerns, please call your representatives in Congress TODAY and do the same!
April 12, 2017
Dear Representative Patrick McHenry,
On behalf of the 3,023 MountainTrue members and supporters who live within the U.S. 10th Congressional District of North Carolina, we want to share our deep concerns about the Trump administration’s proposed 31% cut to the Environmental Protection Agency’s FY18 budget. This proposal is reckless and extreme, and would put the health and safety of all Americans at risk.
The EPA has played a crucial role in protecting the health of your constituents. One example that you are familiar with is the clean up of the CTS Superfund site. CTS abandoned their metal-plating facility and left it to contaminate groundwater and air with toxic Trichloroethylene or TCE. You were a vocal advocate and a partner in our efforts to demand that CTS clean up the site because it endangered neighboring communities and, together, we pushed the EPA to take a strong stand and push CTS aggressively toward a clean up they did not want to undertake.
Your help with EPA was and is much appreciated, but our success depended on EPA having clear federal authority, being willing to use its enforcement power, and having the resources to do so. President Trump’s proposed budget could cripple the EPA, and leave our communities at risk the next time we face an irresponsible or recalcitrant corporation like CTS.
Another example of an important role EPA has played here is on coal ash. Though MountainTrue and other groups had been working for years to get the state to take action to address this significant pollution source, the state essentially ignored us and the problem until EPA stepped in with their criminal and civil enforcement efforts after the Dan River coal ash spill. Only with EPA looking over their shoulder did North Carolina begin addressing coal ash pollution in a systematic and aggressive way that will lead to cleaner water and healthier communities across the state.
Please stand with the residents of the 10th Congressional district and reject these shortsighted cuts. Our people deserve a robust, well-staffed and functional EPA.
- Americans expect and deserve clean air and water. Slashing EPA’s budget by almost one-third would to take America’s environmental cop off the beat – badly eroding the government’s ability to protect our communities from pollution.
- President Trump’s proposed cuts to the EPA would be the biggest in the agency’s history. They are an assault on our mainstream, bipartisan legacy of support for protecting clean air and water.
- Virtually every major program would be affected, weakening and in some cases destroying the agency’s ability to:
- Send money to the states to monitor air and water quality, a critical tool for identifying pollution hotspots.
- Enforce the law against criminal polluters.
- Clean up dangerously polluted radioactive and chemical sites that threaten water supplies and community health.
- Clean up the Great Lakes and the Chesapeake Bay.
- Take action in the urgent fight against global climate change.
- The real-world results of these cuts will be more:
- Pollution in waterways.
- Health problems – short term and permanent – due to contaminated drinking water wells.
- Asthma attacks for kids from increased smog.
- Breathing problems, hospitalizations, and preventable deaths for the elderly.
- Infant developmental problems from increased toxic mercury pollution.
- The proposed budget eliminates funding for Energy Star, the most successful voluntary energy efficiency program ever, which saved Americans $24 billion in 2012 alone.
- Out of every ten dollars the federal government spends, just 2 cents go to EPA. As Republican Congressman Mike Simpson (R-Idaho) said, there’s “not that much in the EPA [budget] for crying out loud.”
- EPA’s job is by no means done. Even today, up to ten million homes still get their drinking water through lead pipes – not just in Flint, Michigan but in towns and cities across the nation. Half of all Americans live in counties with unhealthy air quality.
We need to move forward, not backward, when it comes to our air, water, and communities – especially children, the elderly, and others who are most vulnerable. If you and your colleagues in Congress believe EPA has overreached its regulatory authority, then we implore you to take a measured, responsible approach to guiding the EPA through statutory changes.
If the radical cuts proposed by President Trump become real, you would cripple the agency tasked with protecting the air, water and natural resources of our region and leave our communities vulnerable to the future abuses of corporate lawbreakers like CTS.