Credo Action

Tell the EPA: Restore the head of children's health protection

Sign the petition

The petition to EPA Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler reads:

"Restore Dr. Ruth Etzel to her position as the chief of the Office of Children's Health Protection."

    You'll receive periodic updates on offers and activism opportunities.

    Tell the EPA: Restore the head of children's health protection

    Dr. Ruth Etzel is the EPA's top expert on children's health. A pediatrician and epidemiologist, her job is to protect children from toxic chemicals, pesticides and lead in our environment. In response to the Flint water crisis, she led a team to create a new federal strategy to protect children from lead poisoning.1

    But a month ago and with no explanation, Trump's acting EPA chief Andrew Wheeler abruptly put her on leave. After 30 years of service, with the lead strategy still unreleased, she was asked to turn in her badge.2

    Dr. Etzel's work to protect children is a direct threat to the Trump EPA's goals of slashing regulations and enabling corporate polluters. Wheeler's attempt to silence Dr. Etzel and undermine her office is unacceptable.

    Tell Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler: Restore Dr. Ruth Etzel to the Office of Children's Health Protection.

    Children's health needs are inconvenient for the Trump administration. Because children's brains and bodies are still developing, they are far more vulnerable than adults to environmental toxins and they require tougher regulations to protect them.3 The reason Trump's EPA systematically undermines the office that advocates for children is to open the door for polluters to release more toxins in our environment.

    Even before removing Dr. Etzel, Trump's EPA had already delayed or tried to repeal a number of rules that would protect children from lead poisoning – rules that would keep lead out of drinking water, public buildings and aviation fuel. 4

    The cruelty and greed behind the decision to undermine children's health are hard to fathom. Trump's EPA is trying to repeal rules on mercury, which has been linked to fetal brain damage.5 EPA officials are even trying to weaken rules designed to protect child farmworkers from the most toxic pesticides in the fields.6 Dr. Etzel and the children's health office she runs have repeatedly fought back on behalf of these children.

    The EPA now claims that placing Dr. Etzel on leave has something to do with her work performance, but in 2016 and 2017 her supervisors rated her performance as "commendable."7 In fact, the month before she was placed on administrative leave, the EPA even awarded her a cash bonus.8 Unfortunately for children's health, Dr. Etzel's own explanation for being pushed out after 30 years is far more credible. She said that the EPA thinks that "kids are disposable"9 and wants to "disappear" the office that protects them.10

    We cannot allow fossil fuel industry hacks like former coal lobbyist Wheeler to destroy the careers of those fighting for our environmental health. Sign the petition to stand with Dr. Etzel.

    Tell Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler: Restore Dr. Ruth Etzel to the Office of Children's Health Protection.

    References:

    1. CBS News, "Sidelined children's health official says EPA inaction means 'kids are disposable,'" Oct. 15, 2018.
    2. Coral Davenport and Roni Caryn Rabin, "E.P.A. Places the Head of Its Office of Children’s Health on Leave," The New York Times, Sept. 26, 2018.
    3. Ibid.
    4. Ariel Wittenberg, "Wheeler wouldn't meet with kids' health chief – sources," E&E News, Oct. 19, 2018.
    5. Coral Davenport, "Trump Administration Prepares a Major Weakening of Mercury Emissions Rules", The New York Times, Sept. 30, 2018.
    6. Brad Plumer, "How to tally up the benefits from EPA’s mercury rule," The Washington Post, Dec. 22, 2011.
    7. CBS News, "Sidelined children's health official says EPA inaction means 'kids are disposable.'"
    8. Ibid.
    9. Ibid.
    10. Julia Belluz and Umair Irfan, "An EPA children’s health official says Trump wants to 'disappear' her office," Vox, Sept. 28, 2018.