Barack Obama’s chief of staff Rahm Emmanuel once famously said, “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste. What I mean by that is it’s an opportunity to do things you could not do before.”
Emmanuel must have had a crystal ball to channel the Trump Administration when he uttered those prescient words.
It’s no news the Trump Administration is infected with corporate lobbyists and greedy profiteers hell-bent on dismantling the social safety net that protects the water we drink and the air we breathe. From the beginning of the Trump onslaught, we’ve seen withering attacks on our streams and wetlands, efforts to add more toxic mercury to our air, and a frontal assault on our changing climate. The full list is too long to recite here.
As the coronavirus gained traction in the United States, the Trump EPA went about business as usual, weakening fuel efficiency standards and gutting the nation’s “Environmental Magna Carta” – the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).
That’s because Trump has made it clear since his first day in office he’ll stop at nothing to curry favor with the corporate donors he needs to get re-elected. On March 26, he left no doubt. That’s when the Trump EPA announced it was stopping all environmental enforcement activities, ostensibly due to the coronavirus crisis.
Of course, under normal circumstances, this brazen gift to Big Oil and Big Mining would have been a step too far even for Mr. Trump. But in the fear and haze of a global pandemic, what better time to reward your campaign fat cats then with a free pass to pollute Alaska’s land, air and water with impunity?
As we well know, pollution is just another form of corporate subsidy, because if a company can avoid the costs of proper treatment by illegally dumping toxic waste into Cook Inlet or Prince William Sound, it will likely do it to maximize its profits. We already spend over $5 TRILLION every year propping up the oil and gas industry with outrageous government hand-outs, but apparently the Trump Administration feels that’s not quite enough to wring from the public’s pocketbook.
To date, Senator Dan Sullivan has been predictably silent. So too has our state environmental agency, the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation.
Today, Alaskans are more concerned than ever about their health and safety, and rightly so. So, the question for Dan Sullivan and ADEC is this: do we really want to turn our backs on clean water and clean air now, when the health, safety and welfare of every Alaskan hangs in the balance?