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Local View: EPA's actions will mean more pollution, not less

Once again the assault on the environment and the common good is underway. The administration of President Donald Trump has set its sights on the Clean Water Act in an attempt to roll back significant water-quality protections for the benefit of industrial farming, mining, the fossil-fuel industry, and developers ("Trump administration moves to slash federal protection for waterways," Dec. 11).

In the Trump years, profits trump the common good — and the will of the people. The current administration represents the will of the minority in this Brave New World. Most citizens are in favor of less pollution, not more.

To roll back clean-water standards by allowing the removal of more wetlands, streams, and buffers from waterway protections will mean more pollution flowing downstream. It's as simple as that. There will be more pollution in our water, not less.

The Environmental Protection Agency has been steered into new territory in the past two years, undoing decades of work in favor of the environment and the common good and replacing it with handouts to corporate and private interests which have little, if any, concern about the natural world in which we live.

I believe a new name for the agency should be the Environmental Pollution Agency.

We have a president whose closest interaction with the natural environment comes when he plays golf on a manicured and wholly artificial landscape called Mar-a-Lago. And we had an EPA director named Scott Pruitt, who was a climate-science denier and a shill for the fossil-fuel industry who spent his time as Oklahoma attorney general starting lawsuits against the agency and the federal government to fight air- and water-pollution standards that were created for the health of the people and the planet. The new acting EPA head is Andrew Wheeler, a former coal-industry lobbyist and aide to Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe, one of the most strident climate deniers anywhere.

So there we are in terms of upholding the mission of the agency to protect the environment and the health of the people.

Folks may believe we have turned the corner on pollution and that, in the words of a tweeting Trump, "We're at world class clean." The only problem with such belief is it's 100 percent wrong. Over the years, we have managed to slow the growth of pollution by many methods, including clean-air and water-emission standards that forced reductions on the energy sector and auto industry, to name two. But we have not reversed pollution. We are emitting more pollution today simply because there are more of us, 326 million of us at last count. That means more homes, more cars, more planes, and more acres in agricultural production.

We are much more aware of what we pump into the air, water, and land than ever before. But the simple math of a larger population reveals we are using more fossil fuels and creating more toxic chemicals, pesticides, herbicides, and greenhouse gases than at any time in our history.

We are nowhere near "world class clean," and we are moving farther from it with the most recent actions of the EPA.

In the words of the late photographer Ansel Adams, "It is horrifying that we have to fight our own government to save the environment."

Forrest Johnson of Knife River is a commercial fisherman in Bristol Bay, Alaska, and the former editor of the Lake County News-Chronicle in Two Harbors.

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