With new EPA head, climate change discussion must continue

Michael Habermann, Contributor

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There has been much speculation over whether or not Scott Pruitt, Trump’s highly controversial choice to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, is a good fit.


There has been considerable debate from both sides of the political aisle regarding the decision since his nomination. Pruitt has political experience, but his viewpoints on climate change and environmental protection have led some to question his ability to lead an organization dedicated to protecting natural resources.


Every new administration brings concern of how policies will change at the state level. Louisiana has a long history of political interests clashing with environmental protection, and whether the University of New Orleans will be affected is up for debate.


Vice President for Research and Economic Development at UNO Matthew Tarr noted, “We have a long history in this country of debate between federal and state jurisdiction. If there’s a river that’s flowing through Mississippi and then coming into Louisiana and Mississippi or Arkansas, or another state farther upstream is polluting that river, it affects Louisiana. Louisiana has no capability of controlling that issue, and this is a perfect example of why we have the federal government.”


It is unclear if the balance between businesses’ freedom and environmental protection will be satisfactory for many Americans under Pruitt’s term. Pruitt has a history of challenging and suing the EPA on the grounds that they are violating the constitution.


Pruitt said, “The American people are tired of seeing billions of dollars drained from our economy due to unnecessary EPA regulations, and I intend to run this agency in a way that fosters both responsible protection of the environment and freedom for American businesses.”


One of the initiatives of the EPA is to provide funding for scientific research, and it is unclear cuts will be enacted in the future.


Tarr stated that “at the moment, UNO has a grant from the EPA. The real protection afforded by the agency is protection of people … the reason that we are concerned about the environment is because that’s part of the quality of life we have, it’s part of our health and it’s part of our ability to sustain our society.”


Tarr said he feels strongly about environmental debate: “Scientists continue to disagree about the degree and extent of global warming and its connection to the actions of mankind. That debate should be encouraged — in classrooms, public forums, and the halls of Congress. It should not be silenced with threats of prosecution. Dissent is not a crime.”

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With new EPA head, climate change discussion must continue