Mike Cox, who worked for 25 years as the Environmental Protection Agency’s climate change adviser in “Region 10,” which covers Alaska, Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, quit his post recently in response to the shifting priorities of the organization under Trump administrator Scott Pruitt. (Namely, the shameful fact that climate change denial is now state policy.)
Cox, 60, is everything you’d want in a public servant—a former Peace Corps volunteer who worked in Africa, someone who rode his bike eight miles to work to do his small part for the climate, and generally a man who took the EPA’s credo—”to protect human health and the environment”—very seriously.
Needless to say, there is no place for someone like that in the new regime. So he quit, but not before sending a letter to Scott Pruitt:
You can read the full letter here, and check out some of the harsher excerpts below.
I assume you are aware of the current low morale of EPA career staff. I have worked under six Administrations with political appointees leading EPA from both parties. This is the first time I remember staff openly dismissing and mocking the environmental policies of an Administration and by extension you, the individual selected to implement the policies.
On Pruitt’s denial-ism:
It was surprising, no shocking, when you stated on National television that carbon dioxide is not a primary contributor to climate change. This is settled science and we have too many other important scientific issues to investigate related to climate change to waste our time debating this issue. I am reminded of a Congressional hearing several years ago when Congressman Henry Waxman asked the CEOs of the major tobacco companies if smoking caused lung cancer. All of the CEOs categorically denied that smoking caused lung cancer. We know, of course, that was not true.
On the EPA’s “big day”:
The email headline that greeted EPA staff on Tuesday March 28th was “Our Big Day Today”. The question many of us had was who is “our” referring too? Was it the many EPA career staff that worked for years developing the work that was rescinded or revoked? Was it the EPA career staff that should be jubilant the President came to EPA to poke a finger in our eye (or as many people indicated to give us the finger)? Was it the fossil fuel industry that will benefit most from the President’s action? Or was it the coal miners present at the event who are being given false hope their jobs are coming back?
We were frankly insulted that the President would come to EPA to announce that he is overturning the work to battle the most urgent environmental problem of our generation – climate change. It was beyond comprehension that an Administration could be so arrogant and callous.
On environmental legacy:
Do you really want your legacy to be the person who led the rollback and reversal of the amazing gains we have made over the past 40 years?
I understand the challenges you face when going up against ideologues that appear to cherish fulfilling campaign promises more than doing the analysis and evaluation of what makes sense. But, we are counting on you to advocate for EPA. Unfortunately, up to this point, we have no evidence of this.