WASHINGTON – President Trump is right to use his first federal budget to gut the Environmental Protection Agency and eradicate the cornerstones of Obama's climate change strategy, says U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., because the EPA is being used as a tool by the left to kill free enterprise and destroy capitalism.
The White House submitted a "skinny budget" to Congress Thursday, calling for a 31 percent, or $2.5 billion, cut to EPA funding and reducing its workforce by 3,200 employees. The budget would save $100 million in fiscal 2018 by discontinuing funding for climate-change research and international climate-change programs.
The EPA, Inhofe told WND on Thursday, was set up to provide legitimate oversight of the environment but has been hijacked by big-government liberals and Marxists.
"The biggest problem that we've had in this country has emanated from the Environmental Protection Agency," the Oklahoma senator said. "The Clean Air Act, it came out of that committee, and the amendments on that were in 1999 and they've been extremely successful. But then, with the Obama administration, he got away from that and started worrying about how he can regulate things that the American people don't want – the thing that President Obama did was try to pass things to regulations that he couldn't get [through] legislation. He couldn't get them through legislation because the people at home would not tolerate it."
President Trump already has taken the first step toward killing the controversial "waters of the United States" (a.k.a. WOTUS) rule, the Obama administration's landmark orders that give EPA regulatory authority over any ditch, pond or watering hole in a farm field. WOTUS stirred up angst and uncertainty in farm country, which viewed the rule as an overreach, overregulation and a power grab by the EPA.
Inhofe, who has been in the Senate since 1994 and has served as the top Republican on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee for 12 of the past 14 years, contends that WOTUS is a primary example of Obama's using environmentalism to expand the size and scope of the federal government.
"If you talked to any farmers or ranchers anywhere in America they'll tell you of all the regulations that would be punitive to farmers and ranchers – it would be the water regulations, WOTUS, Waters of the United States," he said.
"I am from Oklahoma; it's a very arid state and I was out in the panhandle, a very arid part of the state, just last Friday. They know that if you take the jurisdiction that's always been with the state and give it to the federal government then every place is going to end up being a wetland and they'll have another bureaucracy crawling over – so that's one of the major concerns and what the president has done is already reverse that."
President Trump is expected to sign another executive order this week that will try to weaken the Clean Power Plan, an Obama administration policy issued in 2015, which is now in the federal courts and which mandates a 32 percent cut in carbon dioxide emissions by 2030.
Eliminating the Clean Power Plan will tremendously alleviate unneeded burdens on American taxpayers, Inhofe contends.
"We will not be saddled with a $300 billion tax increase for every year. Think about how much that increase would be; in my state of Oklahoma that would amount to about $2,000 [per] family in the state of Oklahoma that pays a federal income tax."
Lisa Jackson, President Obama's first director of the EPA, admitted that the Clean Power Plan would not actually reduce CO2 emissions despite the policy's $300 billion tax increase.
"[Obama] tried for several years to get global warming provisions passed that would be very, very punitive to America – it would cost the people around $300 billion a year and it would not reduce CO2 emissions," Inhofe said. "When I say it wouldn't reduce them, that doesn't come from me, that comes from Lisa Jackson – I asked her the question live on TV, ‘If we pass, either through regulation or legislation, the clean power plan and all these regulations is that going to reduce CO2 emissions worldwide?' She said: ‘No, because this isn't where the problem is, the problem is in China, it's in India. It's in Mexico.'"
Inhofe, author of "The Greatest Hoax: How the Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Your Future," acknowledged there is historical, scriptural and scientific evidence that climate always changes, but says the hoax is that progressives insist the world is coming to an end because of man-made gases.
The Clean Power Plan, like all global warming policy, was never genuinely intended to reduce carbon emissions, Inhofe contends, but is a means for progressives to implement "economic equality."
"The real goal," he said, "is to change the economic development model. In other words, redistribution of wealth between nations. That is what was really behind this thing to start with."
Margot Wallstrom, who was the environmental minister of the European Union, said the Kyoto Protocol, the predecessor to the Paris treaty, was "about [the] economy, about leveling the playing field for big businesses worldwide," he said.
"Then along came Jacques Chirac from France. He said, ‘It's not about the environment, it's about the first component of an alternative global governance.'"
Inhofe pointed out that Costa Rican diplomat Christiana Figueres admitted the global warming policy set by the U.N.'s Framework Convention on Climate Change, of which she is the executive secretary, is not to save the world from ecological calamity but to destroy capitalism.
"This is the first time in the history of mankind that we are setting ourselves the task of intentionally, within a defined period of time, to change the economic development model that has been reigning for at least 150 years, since the Industrial Revolution," Figueres said at a news conference in Brussels last month.
Unsurprisingly, Democrats and environmentalists oppose cuts to EPA's budget. Leftists argue that slashing EPA funding will make the U.S. look more like pollution-choked China.
"Donald Trump is using his office to hand the reins of government over to corporate polluters. History has repeatedly shown that corporations cannot be trusted to protect public health," Ben Schreiber, senior political strategist for Friends of the Earth, said in a statement. "Yet the Trump administration has used its budget to assault the agencies tasked with protecting America's public health."
Environmentalists are also accusing Trump of being an "environmental racist," claiming the EPA's budget cuts will have a devastating impact on communities of color across the U.S. that already suffer disproportionately from toxic pollution.
WND reported two years ago Inhofe described global warming alarmism as much more than a political persuasion.
"Global warming alarmism has evolved into a religion where one is either an alarmist or a skeptic," Inhofe said. "The modern-day religion of climate change has been very artful in establishing and controlling carefully scripted talking points intended to scare the American people under the guise of environmental protectionism."