Four Former EPA Chiefs Endorse Biden, Denounce Trump

by Amy Lupica, ODP Contributing Writer

This week, four former Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrators, two of whom served under Republican presidents, sharply criticized the Trump administration’s environmental policy as well as current EPA Chief Andrew Wheeler’s leadership. 

Among their criticism are assertions that Trump’s EPA has waged a “war on science” and that it has allowed political gain to drive its agenda. These criticisms came just hours after Wheeler claimed that the agency had done “more in the first four years of the Trump administration to improve the environment than probably any administration.” Emphasizing how critical the upcoming election will be for the environment, the four also endorsed Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, praising his climate plan which aims to achieve  a net-zero economy before 2050.

Why This Matters: The former EPA administrators have long been vocally criticizing the Trump administration by writing letters and testifying before lawmakers. These new criticisms from the group, who ran the EPA for over a quarter-century, come with a presidential endorsement, a part of an unprecedented wave of former aides and cabinet members now endorsing Biden. 

As climate change takes on a growing role for voters in the 2020 election, the Trump administration is desperately attempting to soften its image on climate change–but voters (even swing voters) and former EPA officials aren’t buying it. 

However, the Trump administration has continued its mass rollbacks of Obama-era environmental policies and has continued to favor the fossil fuel industry. Wheeler attempted to spin these rollbacks as a solution to protect both businesses and the environment, but analysis shows that they would result in hundreds of millions of tons in harmful emissions


No Hiding the Trump Legacy: “I’ve never seen an administration that actually seems to me to have a war against the environment and a war on science,” said Christine Todd Whitman a former Republican governor who ran the EPA under George W. Bush. Todd Whitman, in a call set up by the Biden campaign, accused the EPA of turning its back on its “very simple” mission to protect human health and the environment. In 2017, Trump pulled out of the Paris climate agreement which the US is set to officially leave the day after the 2020 election. 

Trump has downplayed and even outright denied climate change throughout his presidency, most recently rejecting climate change as a cause of California’s wildfires stating, “I don’t think science knows.” William Reilly, another Republican who ran the EPA under George H.W. Bush, repeated Todd Whitman’s sentiments saying that, when it comes to the environment, nothing in the last 50 years has come close to the “dereliction that characterizes this administration.”

Alongside this harsh criticism, however, comes an urgent call to action. “We need to reconcile the environmental protection with the economic aspirations that we have,” Reilly says, and the four former chiefs believe Biden is the man to do that.

President Obama’s second EPA administrator, Gina McCarthy, describes Biden’s plan as “the boldest in its ambition and urgency of any that any president has ever outlined” citing its focus on putting clean energy forward as a tool for environmental justice and job creation for everyone.

Todd Whitman agrees, “Clean air, clean water — these are things that don’t respect Republican or Democrat lines, red states or blue states. We all should care about it.”






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