A Congressional hearing held Tuesday, “Making EPA Great Again,” condemned the Environmental Protection Agency before it even began.
Among those slated testify on “how EPA can pursue environmental protection and protect public health by relying on sound science” was a coal lawyer, a chemical industry lobbyist and a libertarian scholar who once accused the agency of “regulatory terrorism.” The witness list included just one EPA-advocate, Rush Holt Jr., a physicist, head of the nonprofit American Association for the Advancement of Science, and one-time Democratic congressman from New Jersey.
No matter. Rep. Don Beyer was there with an awesome retort. This hat.
Beyer, a Virginia Democrat who sits on the House Science Committee, apparently had the hat made in honor of the hearing, and debuted it Tuesday morning. It was a hit on the hill.
The EPA has been rocked more than any other agency in the early days of the Trump presidency, with the nomination of Scott Pruitt, a climate change denier and Oklahoma attorney general who has sued the agency 14 times, to lead it. Rumors of major cuts to the EPA’s budget and workforce are causing people within the agency to freak out.
The hearing marked the House Science Committee’s first meeting since President Donald Trump took office, though the committee has been on an ideologically-driven tear ever since Rep. Lamar Smith, a Texas republican who has received hundreds of thousands of dollars from the oil and gas industry over the years, became its chairman in 2013. At the hearing on Tuesday, Smith accused the EPA of pursuing “a political agenda, not a scientific one,” under the Obama administration. Confusingly, Smith hopes to remediate this wrong by restricting the scientific data the EPA can use in its decision making.
Beyer’s counter-argument was simple: “The EPA has led to clearer skies, cleaner water and vast improvements to public health,” he said.
In other words, we don’t need to make it great—we need to keep it great.