Bill Knight | Trump’s defiance of science and law



The day Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died and President Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell pledged to violate McConnell’s own precedent on USSC vacancies, Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency re-authorized the use of the herbicide atrazine, which contaminates water and has been outlawed in Europe for decades.

Upending established norms, whether the high court or a low-road defiance of science and law, has become the norm. Dismantling the role of government to protect people from unsafe substances or practices is Trump’s goal, as he said in 2017: “We’re going to be cutting regulation massively.”

Atrazine’s the most recent. Others are: an Executive Order requiring employees in slaughterhouses (one of the country’s most dangerous jobs before the pandemic) to continue working – hours after Tyson claimed of meat shortages, essentially excusing employers from liability for exposing workers to COVID-19; letting the Occupational Safety and Health Administration accept about 100,000 workplaces ignoring the requirement to submit records on injuries and illnesses, according to an August expose by the Center for Investigative Reporting; permitting thousands of oil and gas operations to stop monitoring for hazardous emissions and bypass anti-pollution rules, the Associated Press reported in August; relaxing 2015 regs to limit toxic wastewater from coal plants “at the expense of more than 20 million Americans who drink water and eat fish from lakes and rivers polluted by coal plant discharges,” the Chicago Tribune reported Sept. 8; opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil-drilling when there’s excess oil and crude prices are weak, CNN showed in August; unilaterally taking $44 billion from the Federal Emergency Management Agency during a record hurricane season to fund a $300 unemployment supplement that won’t last a month.

Oddly, such “rollback of rules regulating methane emissions, automotive fuel-efficiency standards and mercury pollution … were opposed by companies the administration claimed to be helping,” the Washington Post said in September, noting that heads of nine drug companies found it necessary to promise to make any COVID-19 vaccine safe after Trump implied he’d fast-track its development despite regulations. It’s no wonder Americans are crying foul about dangers the administration has created, from routine rejection of public-interest rules to the White House’s dishonest response to the pandemic. It is surprising to see apolitical publications such as the academic journal Science and the magazine Scientific American publicly criticize Trump. Science denounced him for lying and for ignoring health scientists, and Scientific American for the first time in its 175-year history has endorsed a presidential candidate (Joe Biden) because “the evidence and the science show that Donald Trump has badly damaged the U.S. and its people — because he rejects evidence and science.”

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