Mike Cox worked for a quarter-century to protect the air, water, and climate across four U.S. states, from Alaska to Idaho. When he resigned from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) at the end of March, his parting note resonated all the way from his home on Puget Sound’s Bainbridge Island to Washington, DC.
“The policies this Administration is advancing are contrary to what the majority of the American people, who pay our salaries, want EPA to accomplish,” Cox wrote in a letter to his agency’s newly installed administrator, Scot Pruitt, reported by the Washington Post. The goals U.S. citizens actually want the agency to pursue, he continued, “are to ensure the air their children breathe is safe; the land they live, play, and hunt on to be free of toxic chemicals; and the water they drink, the lakes they swim in, and the rivers they fish in to be clean.”
EPA staff “are becoming increasing alarmed about the direction of EPA under your leadership,” he warned. “One of the main purposes of my letter was to really get across to Administrator Pruitt that for him to be successful…the career staff have to really be a part of that whole thing,” he told Politico.
Cox’s comments “reflect the disgust and frustration among the agency employees he left behind,” the Post reports, with many of them seeing “Trump’s proposed EPA budget [as] the vehicle for his science-doubting policies.” The president’s proposed budget decrease for the agency is 31%, “the largest among agencies not eliminated. It would result in layoffs for 25T of the staff and cuts to 50 EPA programs.
Cox also challenged Pruitt directly on the fossil-friendly former Oklahoma attorney general’s dismissal of the urgency—or even the reality—of anthropogenic climate change.
“If you continue to question this basic science of climate change,” he warned Pruitt, “you will continue to undermine your credibility and integrity with EPA staff, and the majority of the public.”