WASHINGTON – Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) evoked President Nixon to criticize the Trump administration’s handling of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), particularly with proposed cuts to the agency’s budget in FY 2018.
“I don’t know if people realize this but Richard Nixon was an environmentalist. He was also a Republican. His administration passed landmark legislation like the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act and the National Environmental Policy Act. He also is the creator of the EPA,” she said on a conference call briefing with the American Sustainable Business Council on “the importance of the EPA and what is at stake if its budget is cut.”
Duckworth pointed to a specific “wisely stated” line from Nixon’s 1970 State of the Union address.
“Restoring nature to its natural state is a cause beyond party and beyond factions. It has become a common cause of all the people of this country,” Nixon said in the speech. “It is a cause of particular concern to young Americans, because they more than we will reap the grim consequences of our failure to act on programs which are needed now if we are to prevent disaster later.”
Nixon also said in the address that “clean air, clean water, open spaces – these should once again be the birthright of every American. If we act now, they can be.”
“The price tag on pollution control is high. Through our years of past carelessness we incurred a debt to nature, and now that debt is being called,” he added.
Referencing the portion of Nixon’s 1970 State of the Union address that was related to the environment, Duckworth said, “Unfortunately, today, the Trump administration and the Republican Congress don’t agree. They seem to have forgotten that the EPA has transformed American life for the better.”
Duckworth argued that the EPA has been “key” to the success of American businesses. She applauded the American Sustainable Business Council for speaking out against the proposed EPA budget cuts.
“There are some people who want the American people to believe that we have to choose between the health of our environment and the health of our economy, yet this is yet another alternative fact – in fact, it is not a fact at all,” she said. “American businesses rely on the EPA to license a broad range of activities and 1,000 more rely on EPA to implement rigorous enforcement. Cutting the EPA’s budget by 30 percent will threaten those basic functions.”
The American Sustainable Business Council is “a network of businesses and business associations that have committed themselves to the triple bottom line of People, Planet, and Profit. ASBC members believe that sustainable business is good business, and a sustainable economy is a prosperous and resilient one,” according to its official website.
The American Sustainable Business Council’s policy director, Christine Blackburn, said the organization does not support “every single regulation” coming out of the EPA but it believes the proposed EPA budget cuts would harm the agency overall.
“These huge cuts will ensure that the agency is left unable to achieve what they are required to do by law,” she said.