It remains one of the great conundrums of American politics: Why do so many people who will be the ones most directly harmed by the policies of the Trump administration and its allies in Congress continue to support leaders whose policies are hostile to their interests?
Yet another example of this tragic reality was illustrated this weekend in Raleigh’s News & Observer by contributor Dana Ervin in a fine op-ed about the disastrous impact that the Trump administration’s rollback of clean water rules is all but sure to have on vulnerable parts of eastern North Carolina (a section of the state that continues to support Trump and his minions by large voting margins).
This is from “Trump’s environmental rollback will be costly to NC”:
“Under the newly-announced EPA rule, builders will no longer need a permit to fill, dredge or pollute many waters that have no surface connection to larger bodies of water. That means they’ll no longer need to minimize their environmental impact. But the newly unprotected waters can feed into groundwater and affect drinking water. And wetlands provide important flood control for nearby communities. That’s why EPA’s own Science Advisory Board, which includes members selected by the Trump Administration, says the rule risks public health.
For North Carolinians, the change eliminates protection for almost 1.7 million acres of wetlands, most of which lie in coastal areas. Wetlands are nature’s sponges. They absorb floodwater, then slowly release it as flooding abates. They’re so effective that federal disaster programs encourage states to build new, man-made wetlands. That means taxpayer money could be used to rebuild wetlands eliminated under the new EPA rule.”
After exploring the bitter irony in the fact that EPA announced the rollback right after North Carolina scientists announced new findings about the rapidly growing flood risk posed to the state by the climate crisis and rising sea levels, Ervin concludes this way:
“It’s highly unlikely North Carolina will decide to impose clean water protections abandoned by the federal government. The General Assembly has already passed legislation prohibiting state regulators from imposing environmental standards that are more restrictive than federal ones. And, after years of cuts to the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality’s budget, no one can reasonably expect the legislature to fund new positions.
Instead, we can expect natural flood protections to decline even as flooding increases. And we can expect an expensive lawsuit to stop a costly rule that should never have been promulgated if — as [EPA chief Andrew] Wheeler says — its costs can’t be quantified. Expect taxpayers to foot that bill, too.”