EPA Warning of Climate Change at Odds with Wheeler’s Rhetoric
Last week, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a document to guide communities on how to deal with an increased number of natural disasters resulting from climate change. The document’s emphasis on the effects on climate change is at odds with the EPA’s current head, Andrew Wheeler.
The 150-page document titled “Guidance about Planning for Natural Disaster Debris” outlines how communities should brace for more frequent and destructive natural disasters such as floods, hurricanes, and wildfires. The document reaffirms recent scientific reports by the US government that climate change has begun to exacerbate natural disasters.
The document is in line with other EPA reports, for example the Climate Change Impacts and Risk Analysis (CIRA) project that tries to quantify the costs of climate change. The report details the various costs associated with climate change in the next century, such as the “estimated damages to coastal property from sea level rise and storm surge in the contiguous U.S. [being] $5.0 trillion through 2100.”
These EPA reports directly contradict the EPA chief Andrew Wheeler’s dismissive stance on climate change. Although he doesn’t deny the occurrence of climate change and the overwhelming evidence that it is caused by humans, Wheeler stated that climate change was not the EPA’s top priority.
In a recent interview with CBS, Wheeler stated that “most of the threats from climate change are 50 to 75 years out.” Environmental groups were quick to request evidence supporting his statement through the Freedom of Information Act, but the administration has not provided any evidence so far.
A former coal lobbyist, Wheeler was recently appointed to the EPA after the previous head, Scott Pruitt, resigned amid a string of scandals last July. Although Wheeler is seen as less extreme than his predecessor, he has largely followed Pruitt’s efforts to roll back Obama-era environmental regulations.
Throughout the Trump administration, the dissonance between the reports its agencies have published and the EPA head’s stance have produced controversy for the administration, and have made it difficult for EPA employees to address concerns about climate change. For now, there are still reports that continue to validate the evidence for climate change despite the stance of the EPA head.