Aug 2, 2017

Senior EPA official's resignation memo targets Trump, Scott Pruitt

(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disaster, but I am confident that Congress and the courts will eventually restore all the environmental protections repealed by this administration because the majority of the American people recognize that this protection of public health and safety is right and it is just."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.

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World coronavirus updates: Total cases surge to over 700,000

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens and confirmed plus presumptive cases from the CDC

There are now than more than 700,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus around the world, according to data from Johns Hopkins. The virus has now killed more than 32,000 people — with Italy alone reporting over 10,000 deaths.

The big picture: Governments around the world have stepped up public health and economic measures to stop the spread of the virus and soften the financial impact. In the U.S., now the site of the largest outbreak in the world, President Trump said Saturday he would issue a "strong" travel advisory for New York, New Jersey and parts of Connecticut.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 4 mins ago - Health

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 2 p.m. ET: 704,095 — Total deaths: 33,509 — Total recoveries: 148,824.
  2. U.S.: Leads the world in cases. Total confirmed cases as of 2 p.m. ET: 132,637 — Total deaths: 2,351 — Total recoveries: 2,612.
  3. Federal government latest: The first federal prisoner to die from coronavirus was reported from a correctional facility in Louisiana on Sunday.
  4. Public health updates: Fauci says 100,000 to 200,000 Americans could die from virus.
  5. State updates: Louisiana governor says state is on track to exceed ventilator capacity by end of this week — Cuomo says Trump's mandatory quarantine comments "really panicked" people
  6. World updates: Italy on Sunday reported 756 new deaths, bringing its total 10,779. Spain reported almost 840 dead, another new daily record that bring its total to over 6,500.
  7. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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Cuomo: Trump's mandatory quarantine comments "really panicked people"

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a press conference Sunday that President Trump's unexpected Saturday announcement of a possible "short-term" quarantine of New York, New Jersey and parts of Connecticut to curb the spread of the coronavirus "really panicked people."

Why it matters: Though Trump ruled out the mandatory quarantine later that day, Cuomo said people still called "all night long" asking about the comments and many likely fled the New York area — possibly spreading the virus further.