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Former EPA administrator says climate report leakers should be thanked

Aug 8, 2017

The former EPA regional administrator under President Barack Obama said scientists who leaked the report about further evidence of climate change to The New York Times should be commended as “whistleblowers.”Judith Enck, who was with the EPA from 2009 until President Donald Trump took office, said it’s important that the public see the report. 

Compiled by scientists at 13 federal agencies, it contains the results of thousands of studies showing that climate change caused by greenhouse gases is affecting weather in every part of the United States, causing average temperatures to rise dramatically since the 1980s.Enck said those who leaked the report should be thanked for providing a public service.

“I would refer to whoever did it as a whistleblower, not a leaker,” Enck said. “Tax dollars were spent putting this report together.”

Enck said it’s also important that the draft report be seen to protect against any potential watering down of its conclusions by the Trump administration.

Scott Pruitt, the head of the EPA and the former Oklahoma attorney general who initiated several lawsuits against the EPA during the Obama administration, does not believe that carbon dioxide emissions cause climate change. The secretary of energy, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, agrees with Pruitt.

Trump pulled the U.S. out of the nearly 200-nation Paris climate agreement to combat global warming.

Enck said morale among the scientists and other longtime career staffers at the EPA is low and that they are “enormously discouraged.”

Dr. Elizabeth Southerland, a former colleague of Enck’s who led the EPA’s Office of Water’s science and technology office, resigned earlier this month. She issued a scathing letter, saying in part “the environmental field is suffering from the temporary triumph of myth over truth.”

Enck said others at the regional offices find their proposals bottled up by top agency personnel in Washington who delay making any decisions on how to proceed.

“This is the worst time at the EPA in its 46-year history,” Enck said. “The Trump administration is very carefully and very deliberately taking EPA and other federal agencies apart, bit by bit.”

Enck said Trump has proposed a 31 percent reduction to the EPA’s budget. She said even House Republicans have proposed only a 7 percent cut to the agency.

Conor Bambrick with Environmental Advocates of New York, which lobbies New York state government on environmental issues, said he’s also happy that the climate change report was leaked.

“It’s really no surprise to us and to many that the report said our climate is changing and humans are directly responsible,” Bambrick said.

Bambrick commends Gov. Andrew Cuomo for setting “aggressive” goals for alleviating greenhouse gas emissions. After Trump pulled out of the Paris agreement, Cuomo and other state governors and mayors of big cities across the country formed their own group to combat climate change, known as the U.S. Climate Alliance. He said Cuomo now has to follow through on the plans.