Letter to President Barack Obama

February 4, 2014, Letter to President Barack Obama (AFGE Local 704)

American Federation of Government Employees (AFL-CIO)
AFGE Local 704
P.O Box 0799
Chicago, IL 60690-0799

February 4, 2014

The Honorable Barack Obama
President of the United States of America
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President:

We dissent as citizens, taxpayers and voters of this country, from your Administration’s current  actions and views regarding the importance of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  We deeply urge you to return to your campaign promises regarding the importance of the EPA in an Obama Administration!

On October 20, 2008, as a candidate you wrote to Mr. John Gage, who was then the National President of the American Federation of Government Employees, to share your views regarding the importance of the EPA in an Obama Administration.  In your letter, you cited “failed leadership of the past eight years”, along with “inadequate funding for the EPA” which resulted in the “ineffective allocation of resources, thus weakening enforcement and oversight of many environmental laws and regulations that protect the American people.”

My question to you Mr. President is, “What has changed?”  You had pledged to pursue “greater funding for the EPA so that its responsibilities are carried out.”  Instead, your representatives at EPA  have disinvested in important programs that protected the public and environment.  They are now embarking on additional staff and resource cuts that will further weaken enforcement of environmental laws.  These are not cuts based on sound science or risk assessment.  These are not cuts being undertaken because EPA’s work is done.  These are not cuts based on a rigorous analysis of the Agency’s workload and needs.

On November 16, 2011, Nancy Sutley of the White House Council on Environmental Quality  stated the following:

“Every American deserves to live in a community that fosters health and prosperity. Yet all too often, low-income and minority families live in the shadows of some of the worst pollution in the Nation, leading to higher rates of diseases like asthma, cancer, and heart disease, and threatening the economic potential of their communities. The Obama Administration is committed to addressing these disparities.”[1]

Are you still committed to addressing the disparities that your Administration has     acknowledged and recognized?  How do the disinvestments and staff cuts at EPA address the disparities that exist, and produce the environmental justice that all Americans deserve?

Mr. President, please revisit your original pledge and live up to your word!

John J. O’Grady
President, AFGE Local 704
Cc:      J. David Cox, Sr.
           National President
            American Federation of Government Employees

Author: Michael J. Mikulka

President, AFGE Local 704, representing over 900 bargaining unit employees working at the U.S. EPA Region 5 Offices in Chicago, Grosse Ile, MI and Westlake, OH.

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