By Melinda Cafferty, Natural Blaze
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced late Monday that it is dissolving a program that funds studies on the effects of pollution and chemical exposure on America’s children. Critics are calling the move “truly wicked” and another unsurprising sign of the Administration’s “willingness to sacrifice the health of the public in the service of its corporate-friendly deregulatory agenda.”
From Jake Johnson:
Called the National Center for Environmental Research (NCER), the program previously provided millions of dollars in grants per year to researchers studying the effects of chemicals on children’s health. The EPA’s move, first reported by The Hill, will eliminate the NCER in the process of consolidating three EPA offices.
While the decision to dissolve the NCER was portrayed by the EPA as an effort “to create management efficiencies,” experts argued that the move is perfectly in line with the Trump administration’s push to gut funding for research programs and undercut the agency’s ability to regulate and fine corporate polluters.
“They make it sound like this is a way to create efficiency, but it masks what’s happening to this actually programmatic, scientific function of NCER….That makes you think, ‘Is this really just an efficiency argument masking their real intention to get rid of the research grant program, which they have said they want to do in the past?’”
The NCER’s most prominent program is called Science to Achieve Results, or STAR, which was created in 1995. The STAR program has distributed grants to the Children’s Environmental Health and Disease Prevention Research Centers. The two centers have been “successful in advancing our scientific understanding and ability do address the ways that environmental chemicals can impact children’s health,” a former EPA senior scientist told The Hill.
The Trump administration, however, has singled out the STAR program for elimination in its budget proposals. The STAR program’s budget allocation has varied over the years, peaking at around $138 million in 2001 and 2002 and reaching its lowest point in 2016 at about $39 million. Between 2001 and 2015, the program awarded nearly 1,500 grants and fellowships in total, according to the National Academies of Sciences report.
It is worth pointing out that this is not – nor should it be – a Left vs Right issue. The same people who are shaming the current Administration, as is appropriate – should have been and should continue to speak out against the corporate M.O. of Monsanto who not only controls most of the food supply through genetically engineered crops, but also just maneuvered its way out of warning labels on its herbicides in California, even though they are linked to cancers in parts per trillion. If the current Administration is rolling out the red carpet for industrial chemical producers, then We the People need to continue to speak out and put politics aside.
We know not whether the STAR program was a viable help to children’s health – the important thing is for us to continue protecting children’s health whether it comes from this program or not. We can do that by demanding true, independent scientific research.
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