Had Donald J. Trump not won the presidency in 2016, millions of pounds of chlorpyrifos most likely would not have been applied to American crops over the past 21 months. It would not have sickened substantial numbers of farm workers, or risked what the Environmental Protection Agency’s own studies suggest could be continued long-term health problems for others exposed to the chemical at low levels.
Widespread concerns about chlorpyrifos led to its removal for nearly all residential uses in 2000. Environmental groups kept pushing, and two filed a petition with the E.P.A. in 2007 to ban it entirely on food crops. The E.P.A. eventually agreed in 2015, released its revised human health risk assessment in November 2016, and was ordered by a court to “take final action” by the end of March 2017.
Days after the assessment was released, Mr. Trump won the election. DowDuPont, the leading maker of the pesticide, donated $1 million to his inauguration. One of the early acts of the man Mr. Trump appointed to head the E.P.A., Scott Pruitt, was to quash the chlorpyrifos ban on March 29, 2017.
Since taking office, Mr. Trump has consistently sided with powerful economic constituencies in setting policy toward the air we breathe, the water we drink and the presence of chemicals in our communities.
In the process, he has frequently rejected or given short shrift to science, an instinct that has played out most visibly in his disdain for efforts to curb global warming but has also permeated federal policy in other ways. [Continue reading…]