The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under President Donald Trump is widely criticized for its reluctance to protect the environment.
In its latest move, current EPA head Andrew Wheeler—a former coal lobbyist—will ignore a court-ordered June deadline to establish a safe drinking-water standard in regards to the chemical perchlorate.
The toxic substance related to the production of rocket fuel was the subject of a 2011 Obama administration decision. While the Trump EPA will still recognize that the substance causes brain damage and birth defects, they won't attempt to mitigate its impact.
According to the New York Times, Wheeler's agency is slated to send a notice to the White House stating that, while perchlorate is a danger to fetuses and infants, regulating it is "not in the public interest." Research showed perchlorate interferes with the thyroid gland's iodine uptake, impacting hormones associated with the development of fetuses, infants, and children.
The highest concentrations of perchlorate in the United States are on and around military installations. The biggest lobbyists pushing to keep the chemical compound unregulated are defense contractors involved in the aerospace industry like Lockheed Martin and Northrup Grumman.
The latest EPA rollback was not unexpected.
Since Trump took office in 2017, the primary focus of the EPA has been removing environmental protections in favor of fossil fuels production, mining and manufacturing.
While big business may again applaud the Trump administration plan, people who value the health and welfare of children over the profits of defense contractors are calling the decision another reason to not vote for Trump.
Groups like the Sierra Club and the Natural Resources Defense Council and pediatric advocates vow to fight the decision.
A spokesperson from the EPA says the decision will first be sent to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Mick Mulvaney was in charge of OMB until March 31, 2020 while also serving as the acting White House Chief of Staff.
A falling out of favor with Trump—after contradicting him several times over the White House pandemic response and other issues—lead to Mulvaney being picked to fill a position Trump had left vacant since his inauguration. On May 1, 2020 Mulvaney became the Special Envoy for Northern Ireland.
He was replaced at OMB by Russell Vought who was picked by Trump from the Heritage Action conservative policy advocacy organization. Heritage Action works with extremely controversial sister organization The Heritage Foundation.
The EPA can expect no pushback from Vought's OMB on any deregulation efforts.