The United States Environmental Protection Agency was created by a Republican, Richard Nixon, but ever since it was established subsequent Republicans have been relentlessly trying to dismantle it. Convinced that boosting profits for certain companies by relaxing regulations is worth poisoning the air and water, modern Republicans pocket massive campaign donations in return for carrying out the will of powerful pharmaceutical and industrial lobbies.
Trump, a recurrent denier of climate change, made it perfectly clear what his policy towards Mother Earth would be when he appointed fossil fuel zealot Scott Pruitt to head the EPA. Pruitt shares Trump’s completely unscientific, nihilistic view that climate change is at best an exaggeration and at worst a hoax. When he was the Attorney General of Oklahoma, he filed fourteen separate lawsuits against the EPA on behalf of his corporate benefactors.
Now, Trump’s disastrous laissez-faire environmental policies are starting to directly hurt Americans in the most literal of ways.
Mother Jones reports that a pesticide that was signed off on by Trump’s EPA just poisoned up to fifty farmers in California.
The pesticide contains the toxic substance, chlorpyrifos, which was set to be banned under the Obama administration but quickly reversed under Trump. The pesticide can cause vomiting, nausea, fainting, lung cancer, weakened immune systems, decreased intelligence in children and newborns, and lasting neurological damage.
A previous EPA study revealed that 1,778 of 1,835 plants and animals exposed to the pesticide experienced adverse effects.
According to the Associated Press, 5 million pounds of the pesticide are sold annually. Dow Chemical, the company that manufactures it, donated $1 million to Trump’s inaugural committee.
In a troublingly transparent quid pro quo, Trump’s EPA signed off on permitting the toxic substance just a months later and has since deleted many of the studies explaining the health risks of chlorpyrifos from their website. The president’s decision to take funding at the expense of the health of American workers tells you all you need to know about his priorities.
Twelve of the workers immediately reported exposure symptoms, and it’s still unclear whether the remaining farmers experienced high enough levels of exposure to manifest toxicity. The issue is worsened when one considers the fact that many of these farm workers work long, backbreaking days. Any health complications impeding their ability to work hurts them and their family. A single day of lost work can be catastrophic.
It seems unlikely that even an event as disastrous as this will change Trump or Pruitt’s mind. As long as they’re running the EPA, dangerous decisions will be made, poisons will be distributed, the environment will be ravaged, and Americans will be hurt. Come next election, for the sake of our very well-being, they must be replaced.
Rob Haffey is a writer, filmmaker, and winner of the ScreenCraft Writing Fellowship. He is a graduate of Drexel University.