The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), back before it was ironic, once helped to run something called the Climate Leadership Awards (CLA). Inaugurated in 2012, these are given to individuals or groups in any segment of society that represent exemplary leadership when it comes to fighting climate change.
These awards are essentially accolades for trying to save the planet, and to encourage others in society to do the same. So it should come as no surprise to anyone whatsoever that just recently, the Trump administration decided to stop funding the program.
In a sad little update attached to the top of the CLA website, no reason is given for the termination of their part in proceedings. “The Agency has decided to discontinue the EPA’s involvement with the 2018 Climate Leadership Awards program,” it notes, in red. “This includes canceling the 2018 Climate Leadership Awards as well as EPA’s sponsorship of the Climate Leadership Conference.”
No one really needs reminding that Scott Pruitt’s EPA is anything less than openly hostile towards science and scientists, especially if they’ve got anything to do with climate change. Apart from bullying, demoting, and firing academics from the government en masse, the head of this most egregious outlet of the Trump administration has even said that science shouldn’t influence policy.
In fact, they’re not even trying to hide it anymore. When asked by reporters about the decision to no longer support the CLA, EPA spokesman Jahan Wilcox said “It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that we don’t plan to fund an awards ceremony on climate change,” per Reuters.
That’s it. That’s all the explanation the public are ever going to get.
Arguably, the worst part is that the CLA sponsorship cost the EPA no more than $25,000 per year. Despite being constantly threatened with budget cuts, Congress has managed to limit the damage in this sense so far, and the EPA still gets $8.1 billion every year (still a drop in the ocean compared to most federal agencies.)
That means that the CLA program made up just 0.0003 percent of the entire budget; hardly a strain on their finances.
There is hope though – the program’s other sponsors, which include the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES) and The Climate Registry – have said that they’re looking to continue the awards initiative with new sponsors. Still, it’s hard not to lament the fact that the most powerful government in the world has long stopped even pretending to care about the existential threat of climate change.