Air, water and earth. Fire. Fire, we’ll get to that later. No, these elements are not representative of the four nations that divide children’s world in “Avatar: The Last Airbender”. The elements of air, water and earth are those that we in this world cannot do without. When they go, so too, does life.

Our current administration’s intrepid Environmental Protection Agency, lead by “can I rent a cheap condo” Scott Pruitt, proposed last week to limit the use of science in the development of their lawmaking. Information gathered historically from confidential medical and industry data is no longer valid. Why? Well for one, it is confidential information of the health and lives of people that the environment – air, water and earth – impacts. From the New York Times, “The new regulation means that some of the most important research of the past decades – for example, studies linking air pollution to premature deaths and measuring human exposure to pesticides – would not be available to policymakers if scientists were unwilling to break the confidentiality agreements they struck with study subjects”.

Mr. Pruitt, along with Lamar Smith (R-TX), chairman of the House’s Science Committee and climate change denier, believe that their proposed legislation will be more transparent. From the dark tower of EPA headquarters, Scott Pruitt said, “The science we use is going to be transparent, it’s going to be reproducible, it’s going to be able to be analyzed by those in the marketplace, and those that watch what we do can make informed decisions about whether we’ve drawn the proper conclusions or not.” Without the burden of confidential data, which again spotlights the ramifications of weakened standards on the environment and hence the ramifications on life, Pruitt and Smith as well as the corporate despots they are beholden to will make more money. And they will do so at the expense of American lives. A recent example of this practice would be akin to negating the confidential medical information of the Flint, Michigan, children forever scarred by too much lead in their water.

Let’s talk ‘proper conclusions’ and warnings. Never mind those from prior EPA officials. Expert opinion? Never mind that letter signed by 985 scientists which said the proposal “would ‘greatly weaken’ the agency’s ability to consider all the scientific information needed to form rules”. Was there EPA cooperation with scientists? Not really. Peer review from respected scientific organizations to create the regulation? Nope. Both groups were excluded in the development and the announcement of the new legislation. Who participated in the announcement? Big business. The big business that pollutes our air, leaves pesticides in our earth and allows lead to course through our water. All that money big business will save by killing us slowly (can you hear Roberta Flack in the background?), will be useless for a planet devoid of life.

At last, fire. It’s in two parts. There is a 30 day comment period on this proposed legislation. You can fire off a letter, email or call to your members of congress with a comment because we are indeed watching. Lastly, till November, let’s work together to fire these destroyers of our only home out of office.

Submitted by: Beth Wendt, Chair of the Environmental Committee