But enforcement has lagged

A not very festive item I was unaware of: a friend mentioned the deregulation of neurotoxins “resulting in an entire generation of cognitively impaired humans” and I asked what he meant and he replied with Children of Color Hit Hardest as Environmental Enforcement Tumbles Under Trump. Ah yes. I knew that – I knew that poison and pollution in general is much more likely to be perpetrated on poor people than on rich people and more on people of color than white people – but I didn’t know about this particular example. It’s not cheerful.

Public health researchers have found elevated levels of manganese, a heavy metal that can cause neurological disorders and other health problems, in the toenails of children living in Chicago’s Southeast Side neighborhood. Environmentalists are nearly certain they know why.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been working with two industrial facilities that handle large amounts of manganese on the Southeast Side to reduce dangerous dust drifting into nearby residential areas, but enforcement has lagged since the Trump administration took over the agency, according to Debbie Chizewer, an attorney with the Environmental Advocacy Center at Northwestern University’s Pritzker School of Law.

“As far as we know, [the] EPA has taken no further action to contain these emissions,” Chizewer told Truthout in an interview.

I’d like to know more. I’d like to know if Trump’s people told the EPA to stop, for instance.

This is not just a problem in Chicago. Across the country, the number of enforcement actions issued by the EPA has markedly declined since Trump took office and placed Scott Pruitt at the head of the agency, according to a recent investigation by the New York Times.

Trump and Pruitt have launched a sweeping rollback of Obama-era environmental protections and argue that regulators should work [more closely] with polluting industry to find environmental solutions that won’t hamper business.

Trump and Trump’s children don’t live in places where neurotoxins blow into the windows.

After months of pushback and wrangling with [Chicago] community groups and regulators, the operator of one terminal, S.H. Bell Co., agreed to place air pollution monitors at its facility. Within months, the monitors affirmed what residents and advocates had feared since at least 2014: Dust containing manganese was drifting from the facility at levels that exceed federal health standards.

A recent study conducted near a hazardous waste incinerator and another S.H. Bell industrial terminal in East Liverpool, Ohio, found a significant link between elevated manganese levels in the area and lower IQ scores in children.

EPA employees protest Trump’s appointments, and are subject to surveillance as a result.

Employees may be keeping a low profile, but the union representing EPA workers in the Chicago office has criticized the agency for failing to protect Southeast Chicago from pollution since Trump took office. The American Federation of Government Employees Local 704 posted this tweet on Wednesday:

The union is also slamming Cathy Stepp, the Trump administration’s new pick to run the Region 5 office in Chicago. Stepp, a Republican businesswoman-turned-politician, formerly served as head of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR), where she came under fire for decreasing enforcement, shrinking the agency’s scientific research bureau and scrubbing information from the state website linking human activity to climate change, according to reports.

John O’Grady, president of the EPA’s national employee union, said Stepp appears to be “another non-scientist who doesn’t acknowledge that climate change is real.”

“Putting Ms. Stepp in charge of the largest Regional Office in the US EPA is akin to asking the fox to guard the hen house,” O’Grady said in a statement. “If her record at WDNR is any indication, Ms. Stepp will successfully cut funding for enforcement, along with fines for violations. In fact, US EPA Region 5’s enforcement efforts can be expected to plummet.”

Not very festive at all.

4 Responses to “But enforcement has lagged”