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Dispatches: What You Need to Know About an Embattled EPA

News and notes from Pacific Standard staff and contributors.
Scott Pruitt testifies before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works on December 7th, 2017, in Washington, D.C.

Scott Pruitt testifies before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works on December 7th, 2017, in Washington, D.C.

This week, the head of Donald Trump's Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, has made news for the wrong reasons. He has been accused, again, of misappropriating funds for personal use and of committing other ethics violations. The agency's attempts to roll back auto emissions standards positioned it for a legal battle with the state of California, and perhaps even with the auto industry itself. And, the agency has been accused of lowering air quality standards to levels that could be hazardous to human health.

All of the stories about the EPA in recent months tackle important areas of coverage not just because of the narrative power of a controversy between state and federal government or conservationists and climate change skeptics, but because each of these issues could have a significant impact on the future of the planet. Pacific Standard extensively covers topics related to the EPA and environment; here are some of our most important and timely pieces:

  • We listed all of the climate change skeptics—and some of their more controversial positions—that are set to run for a seat in the House of Representatives in the upcoming mid-term elections.
  • As staff writer Kate Wheeling outlines here, the EPA under the Trump administration's desire to roll back auto emissions standards has instigated a potential legal battle with California over the state's waiver status, which allows it to set it's own auto emissions standards separate from those of the rest of the country.
  • In the past, the Trump administration made clear that it wanted to slash the budget of the EPA's science office, which is the part of the agency at the front lines of virtually every environmental crisis.
  • Back on Capitol Hill, staff writer Francie Diep spoke to experts about why some representatives who do not believe in the effects of climate change have shown grave concern, instead, over the potential of an asteroid striking the Earth.
  • Abroad, emissions standards are trending more positively as the International Maritime Organization has set goals to cut emissions in half by 2050. As sea ice continues to melt and open new shipping lines in the arctic, this move finally includes the IMO in the international movement to reduce peak emissions, the importance of which is explained in this piece.
  • UPCOMING: Our cover story about how the federal government, notably the EPA, is failing in its legal responsibility to ensure environmental justice for the country's poor and minority communities, will be available for Premium members later this week. To understand some background about that piece read contributing writer Jared Keller's piece about the absence of the EPA from these dangerous Superfund sites.

This dispatch originally appeared in The Lede, the weekly Pacific Standard email newsletter for premium members. The Lede gives premium members greater access to Pacific Standard stories, staff, and contributors in their inbox every week. While helping to support journalism in the public interest, members also receive a print magazine subscription, early access to feature stories, and access to an ad-free version of