Environmental Protection Agency chief Andrew Wheeler on Thursday defended the Trump administration's record on protecting the nation's air and water and said a second term would bring a greater focus on pollution cleanups in disadvantaged communities and less emphasis on climate change. In a speech marking the agency's 50th anniversary, the AP reports, Wheeler said the EPA was moving back toward an approach that had long promoted economic growth as well as a healthy environment and drawn bipartisan support. "Unfortunately, in the past decade or so, some members of former administrations and progressives in Congress have elevated single-issue advocacy—in many cases focused just on climate change—to virtue-signal to foreign capitals, over the interests of communities within their own country," he said. Wheeler spoke at the Richard Nixon library in Yorba Linda, California. The Republican president established the EPA in 1970.
Environmental groups and former EPA chiefs from both parties have accused Wheeler and his predecessor, Scott Pruitt, of undermining the agency’s mission by weakening or eliminating dozens of regulations intended to protect air and water quality, reduce climate change, and protect endangered species. "EPA was founded to protect people—you, me and our families—but the Trump administration has turned it into an agency to protect polluters," said Gina McCarthy, who led the agency during the Obama administration. If President Trump is re-elected, Wheeler said, EPA would support "community-driven environmentalism" emphasizing on-the-ground results such as faster cleanup of Superfund toxic waste dumps and abandoned industrial sites that could be used for new businesses. He pledged to require cost-benefit analyses for proposed rules and to make public the scientific justification for regulations.
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