The Environmental Protection Agency canceled the scheduled appearances of three scientists from the agency who planned climate change discussions at a conference in Rhode Island on Monday.
According to the New York Times, officials from the EPA did not divulge the reason for pulling the scientists from the conference. However, the latest development has become a major concern for scientists who feel as though the EPA has avoided climate change topics during President Trump’s administration.
The three scientists – Autumn Oczkowski, Rose Martin, and Emily Shumchenia – contributed significantly to the 500-page report being presented at the State of the Narragansett Bay and Watershed program, located in Providence. The conference is centered on analyzing the health of Narragansett Bay, in which one of the cut speakers was to give the keynote address.
The report details the effect of climate change on the bay, including warming temperatures of the air and water, changes in precipitation, and rising sea levels, according to Slate. The removed speakers intended on focusing on these climate changes issues. However, the replaced address is listed as “Narragansett Bay as a Sentinel Estuary.”
EPA spokesperson gave CNN a statement on the decision:
“EPA supports the Narragansett Bay Estuary, and just this month provided the program a $600,000 grant. EPA scientists are attending, they simply are not presenting; it is not an EPA conference” John Konkus, a former Trump campaign operative in Florida, confirmed.
The EPA refrained from giving a reason for not allowing EPA scientists to speak.
Konkus has vetted all EPA research grant requests during the Trump administration in order to make sure that the grants “adhere to the Trump administration’s goals and policies and the EPA’s back-to-back agenda” E&E News reported.
Martin and Schumchenia planned a panel titled “The Present and Future Biological implications of Climate Change,” and Oczkowski, the original keynote speaker, wrote a speech to introduce how climate change has altered the bay’s ecosystem and overall health.
The last minute effort serves to confirm the fear that Scott Pruitt, the Administrator of the EPA appointed by President Trump, will end federal grants to governmental scientists if their research concerns climate change. The move alludes to the idea that Pruitt wants to silence scientists who wish to publicly tackle and discuss climate change, its effect on the planet, and how to begin to reconcile it.
“It’s a terrible, terrible idea to remove all recollections and to disband the EPA,” Dr. Abha Sood, a lecturer in the English department at Monmouth. “They’re trying to undo the work of all these groups of people…it’s irresponsible and inconsiderate.”
Pruitt, a lawyer and politician from Oklahoma, has previously stated that greenhouse gases caused by human activity are not the reason for rising global temperatures. The EPA administrator has also worked with fossil fuel companies in the past to sue the EPA.
Senator Sheldon Whitehouse criticized Pruitt for the EPA’s blocking of climate change discussion by scientists who worked on the research that will be presented at the conference.
According to CNN, the majority of Pruitt’s schedule is concerned with meeting with stakeholders in the fossil fuel industry. One percent of these meetings have included environmentalist or science groups.
The head of the EPA has been partly successful in undoing environmental regulations, such as repealing the Clean Power Plan. This plan may significantly affect the National Estuary Program – it would be removed, leaving the Narragansett Bay at considerable risk.
Carly Miller, a senior homeland security student and e-board member of the Youth Activist Group at Monmouth, said, “I love the environment!” capturing the importance of maintaining the EPA’s focus on researching climate change issues.
Robert Zadotti, a senior English student feels the fact that the EPA must align with Trump’s goals:
“I think politics are become too involved in science,” he said. “Climate change is a real issue and we need to get the word out to as many people as possible. The EPA preventing [climate change discourse] in any measure is only hurting the cause. It has to be talked about…to get people to realize they need to take action,” he continued.
Though the EPA under Scott Pruitt offers a – fragile – façade of pursuing climate change issues, the fact is that his attack of policy will undo environmental protection for the benefit of fossil fuel and coal industries.
IMAGE TAKEN from asergeev.com