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(President Trump and EPA Chief Scott Pruitt discussing the Paris accord in the WH Rose Garden.) Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP

Elizabeth "Betsy" Southerland, a senior official at the Environmental Protection Agency, issued a memo Tuesday explaining her resignation from the agency, where she had worked for more than 30 years, per E&E News.

In the exit memo, released by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), Southerland said the EPA had been "the guiding light to make the 'right thing' happen for the greater good, including public health and safety" throughout her career. That was until President Trump and Scott Pruitt took over, whose actions Southerland says have led to "the temporary triumph of myth over truth."

Why it matters: Southerland stated that "there is no question" the administration is damaging the EPA's mission, and the long-term effects could force "our children and grandchildren" to live with increased safety risks and a degraded environment.

Key excerpts from her memo:

  • "The truth is there is NO war on coal, there is NO economic crisis caused by environmental protection, and climate change IS caused by man's activities."
  • Trump's executive order requiring agencies to repeal two regulations for every new one is "a real Sophie's choice for public health agencies like EPA."
  • "Faced with such painful choices, the best possible outcome for the American people would be regulatory paralysis where no new rules are released so that existing protections remain in place."
  • "It may take a few years and even an environmental disaster, but I am confident that Congress and the courts will eventually restore all the environmental protections repealed by this administration because the majority of the American people recognize that this protection of public health and safety is right and it is just."

Go deeper: 5 ex-EPA chiefs on what's surprised them most about Scott Pruitt.

Go deeper

Moderna says vaccine appears to protect against new COVID-19 variants

Photo: Justin Tallis/AFP via Getty Images

Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine is effective against new variants of the virus that first appeared in the U.K. and in South Africa, the company announced on Monday.

Yes, but: The vaccine was as effective against the strain from U.K., but saw a six-fold reduction in antibodies against the South Africa variant. Even still, the neutralizing antibodies generated by the vaccine "remain above levels that are expected to be protective," according to the company.

Dave Lawler, author of World
Updated 1 hour ago - World

Xi Jinping warns against "new cold war" in Davos speech

Chinese President Xi Jinping. Photo: Wang Zhao - Pool/Getty Images

Chinese President Xi Jinping warned that a "new cold war" could turn hot, and must be avoided, in a speech on Monday at World Economic Forum’s virtual “Davos Agenda” conference.

Why it matters: Xi didn't refer directly to U.S.-China tensions, but the subtext was clear. These were his first remarks to an international audience since the inauguration of President Biden, whose administration has already concurred with Donald Trump's determination that China is committing "genocide" against Uyghur Muslims, and issued a warning about China's aggression toward Taiwan.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Dominion files $1.3 billion defamation lawsuit against Rudy Giuliani

Photo: Rey Del Rio/Getty Images

Dominion Voting Systems filed a defamation lawsuit against Rudy Giuliani on Monday seeking $1.3 billion in damages for his "demonstrably false” allegations about the company's voting machines.

Why it matters: Giuliani led former President Trump's efforts to overturn the results of the election and spread the baseless conspiracy theory that Dominion's voting machines flipped votes from Trump to Joe Biden.