Daily Engagement: Ask Members of Congress to Defend the EPA Against Billion-Dollar Budget Cuts


Daily Engagement is a new, brief, daily feature on Flavorwire. It’s aimed at helping people feel somewhat less helpless and hopeless (or at least in control of their helplessness and hopelessness) in the midst of a political news cycle that’s been doling out daily affronts to human decency.

Every day, we’ll post one easy thing that people can do to continue to resist the current state of politics under the Trump administration, focusing on the creative ways (we are a culture website after all) that citizens are finding to resist.

What’s the issue?

As much of a novelty as it might be to step out into a 60 degree February day in a T-shirt and debunk the claims of the world’s most self-important groundhog, it’s also an unsettling example of the world’s violent climate instability, wherein the only truly stable thing is the indication that on a whole, every year will see the world’s average temperature growing and growing. Per the Washington Post, this unnervingly pleasant February has seen temperatures average “more than five degrees above normal over the Lower 48 — with the warmest temperatures with respect to normal centered over Texas,” referencing meteorologist Paul Douglas’ declaration of a “fast-forward spring” and noting how it’s thrown off the cycles of wildlife by months.

And that of course should be a call for extra funding and support for something like the “Environmental Protection Agency,” which even in a time of environmental stability would seem uncontroversial. Environment! Protection! Given that all of humanity exists within the environment, it’s thereby a very human concern to protect it! Which is why there’s an agency dedicated to doing just that!

But ever since January, when the Trump administration’s evil elementary school implementation of a politics of permanent Opposite Day began its reign, the EPA has seemed like more and more of a target for Donald Trump/Steve Bannon’s scheme to dismantle all aspects of the “establishment” that actually serve any good. In another way of abandoning the poor communities the Trump regime claimed to speak to during their election campaign, they seem dead-set on getting rid of any regulatory blockades that could stop corporate environmental destruction — destruction that, of course, is likely to have the worst effect on poor communities stuck in places like New Orleans’ Lower Ninth Ward. As Flavorwire Editor-in-Chief Tom Hawking wrote back in January, “there can be no doubt as to what [Trump’s] administration is going to do about climate change: not just nothing, but worse than nothing.”

Today, the New York Times reported on Trump’s upcoming budgetary plans, which will apparently involve him sending instructions to various agencies to put together a budget that drastically increases defense spending (by approximately 10%, amounting to some $54 billion) and vastly decreases funding for other governmental departments. (These plans will, it seems, at least leave Social Security and Medicare alone for the time being, thankfully.) Apparently, the plan involves “tens of billions of dollars of reductions” to the EPA and State Department.

What can you do?

Thankfully, this type of plan is not among the things that can magically be brought into wretched existence by the President’s signature. Budgets are always overseen by Congress (even the budgetary aspects of executive orders — like spending on the Wall — need to go through Congress), and the NYT mentions Trump’s initial plan will be “a numerical sketch that will probably be substantially altered by House and Senate Republicans.” Congressional Democrats will presumably oppose it, which will lead to “Mr. Trump’s first big step into a legislative fray he has largely avoided during the first 40 days of his administration.”

So, given that there’s some time — and room for alteration from Congress — it’d be great to start showing your disapproval of the plan, by calling representatives and stressing the importance of the EPA. This is especially important given that Trump has been openly hostile to the EPA, both before and after his election: he issued a social media/press gag order on the Department’s employees, his transition team ordered the removal of climate change info from the EPA’s website, and he has appointed climate change skeptic/EPA adversary Scott Pruitt as the agency’s head.

Because this budget is something that’ll be overseen by all of Congress, contacting any/all of your Senators and Representatives — even if they’re Democrats (because God knows they haven’t been nearly as vehement as they need to be in their oppositional tactics) — could be helpful. A top official described the incoming cut plans to the EPA as “transformational” — and that’s a destructive, terrifying prospect that needs to be opposed on all fronts, particularly given the amount of money our swollen military industrial complex already gets.

Beyond calling members of Congress, you can also begin upping environmental activism by planning for and/or getting involved in the People’s Climate March. They sent an email out recently asking people to RSVP and share information about it on Facebook. That’s on April 29, while a separate March for Science is on April 22. You can also, of course, donate to organizations like the Sierra Club, environmental law nonprofit Earthjustice, and the Environmental Defense Fund.