Prolonged Government Shutdown Puts Public Health and the Environment at Risk

EDF statement from Elgie Holstein, Senior Director for Strategic Planning

January 8, 2019
Keith Zukowski, (202) 572-3289,

(WASHINGTON) The government shutdown drags into its 18th day and it is American communities that are at great risk, compounding the hardships faced by the hundreds of thousands of American workers who are not receiving paychecks. The arguments over the shutdown have glossed over the very real and immediate impacts on public health and the environment caused by closures to agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency.

“The debate surrounding the government shutdown has centered largely on the border wall, yet little has been made of the dangers posed right now to American families by the shuttering of agencies such as EPA. With nearly 95% of its 14,000-person workforce off the job, communities across the country are forced to stand by while water and soil go untested, air is fouled, science is suspended, and looming threats from climate change grow more perilous.

“From a North Carolina river that needs testing for a cancerous pollutant, to Superfund sites in Illinois, Missouri and Massachusetts suffering cleanup delays, to suspensions in hurricane prediction, American families’ health and safety have been irresponsibly put at risk and ignored.

“The shutdown serves as another reminder of the vital, underappreciated role that EPA and public health and environmental agencies play in keeping Americans out of harm’s way. An extended shutdown only increases the risks to the American people.

“President Trump is fond of saying he wants clean air and clean water. However, his willing, prolonged closure of the government—coupled with new research indicating US greenhouse gas emissions rose considerably in 2018—shows a president with little genuine regard for the present and future well-being of American families and communities.

“EDF again calls for an immediate reopening of the government so that public officials can provide critical safeguards and Americans can breathe easier knowing that they are properly protected.”

  • Elgie Holstein, Senior Director for Strategic Planning

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