In 1970, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was created after catastrophes like an oil spill in Santa Barbara, Calif., and the Love Canal Tragedy in Niagara Falls, N.Y. Legislation was enacted to protect air, water, and endangered species.

Since then, enormous progress has been made. The Cuyahoga River no longer catches fire, cities like Pittsburgh and Los Angeles have far less smog, and Great Lakes pollution has been substantially reduced.

But now that record of progress is at risk. The chief of the EPA, Scott Pruitt, is arguably the worst of all of President Donald Trump's cabinet appointments. His whole career has put profits above environmental protection. He's openly hostile to the mission of his own agency and disdainful of the science upon which EPA policies must be based. The agency website removed references to climate change and renewable energy.

More than 700 people have left the EPA under this administration, and most have not been replaced. Hundreds of scientists and environmental-protection specialists are gone. Nine department directors departed, and morale, reportedly, is at rock bottom. The exodus has left the agency depleted of much of the scientific know-how needed to protect our air and water.

At a time when action is desperately needed to combat the effects of global warming, the EPA is crippled by incompetent leadership.

Pruitt's ethical lapses and questionable judgments are notorious. He demanded an enormously expensive secure phone booth for his office, flies first class to avoid exposure to contrary views, and miraculously procured a $50-per-night room in a condo in the heart of Washington, D.C. His horrific record would be funny if not so tragic for the protection of our natural environment.

Earth Day has never seemed so bittersweet as under the inept leadership of Trump and Pruitt.

James J. Amato




The writer cited as his sources for this letter the New York Times, the Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant College Program, and CNN.