We write to you in the wake of the resignation of US EPA administrator Scott Pruitt. While the plant experts at the Department of Weedy Affairs welcome Pruitt’s departure, they are equally concerned with the interim appointment of Andrew Wheeler. A former coal lobbyist for Murray Energy who has spent his career representing the fossil fuel industry, Wheeler also worked directly with James Inhofe (R-Okla), arguably one of the biggest climate change deniers in the Senate’s history. Wheeler is expected to not only continue the unprecedented rollbacks and reversals of environmental protections that began under Pruitt (see what’s changed since 2017) but may also prove even more dangerous (see resources below).
In this time of transition we look to the wisdom of the weeds. As we write, Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris), who’s been nominated to the Science Advisory Board, is taking root in the front lawn of the US EPA Headquarters in Washington DC. Since June 15th they’ve been extending rhizomatic networks and cultivating interspecies alliances to resist the dangerous changes underway (Watch the EPA meets EPA Video). Like Wheeler, The Department of Weedy Affair’s Herbicide Branch Chief, Horseweed (Erigeron canadensis) is also prepared — strong, grounded, rising and making decisions in its vertical dimension with clarity and precision despite compacted soils.
We have also reactivated the web platform OnBehalfOf.Life to encourage the submission of public comments on behalf of local plant experts in the Bronx in response to a newly proposed rule, “Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science.” Despite the deceptively benign title, this new rule will prevent vital forms of public research from being carried out by US EPA officials, weaken the role of science in the development of environmental policy, and open the door for corporate and private interests to conduct misleading research with severe consequences for human and more than human health.
We invite you to draft a comment by listening to a local plant expert. Go for a walk to find the plant. Listen, move, and allow your writing to be truly imaginative, poetic and scientific by entangling the plant’s voice with your voice. Consider what a plant would say about this new rule.
Finally, while we expect things at the US EPA to worsen, the Environmental Performance Agency continues to find strength, gratitude and inspiration from weedy plants and multispecies networks all around us. Every hour of every day, the weeds remain persistent, scratchy, sensual and they continue to show up. If you want to truly resist, listen to the weeds, let them be your guide, and we’ll see you in streets.
In weedy solidarity,
The EPA team
Resources and Info about Andrew Wheeler
- EPA Press Release on Andrew Wheeler
- New Yorker: Scott Pruitt Is Gone, But The Trump Administration’s Climate Negligence Remains
- The Verge: The EPA’s deputy chief may be an even bigger threat to the environment than Scott Pruitt
- NY Times: How Andrew Wheeler, the New Acting E.P.A. Chief, Differs From Scott Pruitt
- The Hill: Andrew Wheeler has the potential to be even more dangerous than Scott Pruitt
- Chicago Tribune: EPA’s acting administrator has long lobbying record on issues before the agency