The head of an Environmental Protection Agency office targeted for defunding in the Trump administration has resigned — and it’s not clear that anyone will be appointed in his place.
Mustafa Ali, who helped set up the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance under George H. W. Bush in 1992, said in an interview that “my values and priorities seem to be different than our current leadership and because of that I feel that it’s best if I take my talents elsewhere.”
As senior adviser and assistant associate administrator, Ali was focused on communities impacted by toxic pollution. Using a series of small grants and assistance measures, the office has backed hundreds of successful cleanup efforts and mitigation strategies, restoring the economic vitality of towns and neighborhoods across the nation.
From Flint, Michigan, to the Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota, to Spartanburg, North Carolina, the list of places in need of help is long and the office’s work has continued under presidents of both parties.
Yet a March 1 memo reported by several news outlets calls for the complete elimination of the office’s budget, abandoning the most vulnerable taxpayers in America without really saving any money.
In his resignation letter, Ali called on new EPA head Scott Pruitt to continue the programs that have helped “over 1,400 communities” across the country. “I wonder if our new leadership has had the opportunity to converse with those who need our help the most,” Ali wrote.
Such hopes seem misplaced. Ali’s position as senior adviser was eliminated in the transition to the Trump administration, and Pruitt shows no interest in environmental issues.
Hired mainly for his opposition to the very existence of the EPA, Pruitt argued on CNBC today that carbon dioxide is not “a primary contributor” to global warming. Medieval church officials similarly denied that the sun is the center of the solar system.
Of course, in his confirmation process, Pruitt gave lip service to environmental justice, telling senators that “it is important that all Americans be treated equally under the law, including the environmental laws.”
Apparently, he meant that all Americans should be ignored equally when it comes to setting environmental policies. Polluters will set the agenda now. The poor and minority folks living in their path will just have to get used to their poisonous air, water, and soil.