The Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs hosted New York Times journalist Eric Lipton to speak about changes in environmental policy Tuesday.
Lipton, a three-time Pulitzer Prize winner and investigative journalist, focused his presentation on the actions of the Environmental Protection Agency during President Donald Trump’s administration.
In reference to one of his own articles, Lipton said glider trucks, a type of semi-truck, have caused significant harm to the environment and health of Americans. Fitzgerald glider trucks, another type of semi-truck, produce over 50 percent greater emissions than modern trucks and are related to the causes of asthma and lung cancer. However, there has been no ban on the usage or production of them, according to Lipton.
“The special treatment for the Fitzgerald trucks is made possible by a loophole in federal law that the Obama administration tried to close, and the Trump administration is now championing,” Lipton said.
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During his administration, former President Barack Obama became frustrated with Congress and used the “power of the pen” to remake environmental policy, Lipton said. According to Lipton, Obama enforced more environmental regulations than any previous administration.
Lipton said Trump is expected to decrease regulations on emissions from coal plants that will, in turn, lessen the effect of The Clean Power Act, an environmental policy put into place during the Obama administration to cut carbon emissions that are partly responsible for climate change.
Lipton also discussed the use of pesticides and their effect. Federal law states that pesticides must be re-certified every 20 years to ensure environmental safety, Lipton said, and the deadline for organic phosphate — a chemical commonly used in fertilizer — is approaching.
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Lipton said that the EPA will not disclose data acquired from epidemiological studies, deemed as “secret science,” to the public, despite this data proving a correlation between organic phosphate and childhood developmental issues.
It’s crucial for the public to be aware of developments in the sphere of environmental regulation, Lipton said.
“I am all about transparency and making sure at least the public knows what’s happening,” Lipton said.