“America can reclaim our country from this fate by refusing to be ruled by industry, and instead put the collective public interest — public health — in our country’s beaches and tourist economies, native cultures, and in the wildlife in our coastal seas ahead of the almighty dollar.”

John O’Grady, President, AFGE National Council of EPA Locals #238

Have our country’s governing bodies and reputation sunk so low? When, on January 3, the Trump Administration announced plans to reverse a ban on new offshore drilling off all U.S. coasts, it opened more than 40 sites for natural gas and oil leases. All of the locations are in U.S. federal waters that were previously protected and could raise $15 billion for the federal treasury.

Called “the Florida Favor,” no other state was exempted, even though every other state with a coastline objected to removing the ban, except Maine and Alaska. It points to a deeper, systemic problem revealed this new year where the rule of law is abandoned and protections for Americans take a backseat to whoever has the most influence with the Trump White house.

For Trump’s main audiences, Big Oil and Big Gas, it’s a last “indulgence” to an industry that produces the fuel that climate scientists are urging us to abandon for clean renewables. Of course, his administration tried to paint this as a national security issue.

“Just a week before making allowances for drilling, the White House also announced it will dispense with regulatory safeguards created after the Deepwater Horizon disaster almost eight years ago.”

“It’s better to produce energy here and never be held hostage by foreign enemy needs,” said U.S. Interior Department Secretary Ryan Zinke. The proposal represents a “clear difference between energy weakness and energy dominance,” he added.

Making matters riskier, the Trump Administration is expanding offshore drilling just as Secretary Zinke abandoned attempts to keep oil drilling safe; the Interior Department halted a National Academy of Sciences study to improve the inspection program for offshore oil and gas operations that would review current safety measures. Just a week before making allowances for drilling, the White House also announced it will dispense with regulatory safeguards created after the Deepwater Horizon disaster almost eight years ago. One draft proposal scales back previous rules governing fail-safes on wells, like the faulty blowout preventer used on the BP Macondo well.

So, the oil industry gets special treatment while the public gets snubbed. Trump’s toxic tax plan also let expire a 9-cent per barrel tax on domestic crude oil production companies that raised hundreds of millions of dollars annually for federal oil-spill response efforts — basically a special corporate tax break just for oil companies.

It’s not too late, however.  We can reclaim our country from this fate by refusing to be ruled by industry, and instead put the collective public interest — public health — in our country’s beaches and tourist economies, native cultures, and in the wildlife in our coastal seas ahead of the almighty dollar.

We call on all citizens to save the U.S. EPA by contacting your Member of Congress via the U.S. Capitol Switchboard (202) 224-3121, on-line at the U.S. House of Representatives: www.house.gov and the U.S. Senate: www.senate.gov.

In Solidarity!

John O’Grady
President
AFGE National Council of EPA Locals #238