Former Republican EPA Leaders Back Clinton, Bash Trump

Donald Trump’s environmental stance is driving long-time Republicans from supporting him. AP Photo/Keith Srakocic
Donald Trump’s environmental stance is driving long-time Republicans from supporting him. AP Photo/Keith Srakocic

Two former top Republican environmental regulators endorsed Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton on Tuesday in a letter released by her campaign.

Citing concerns about climate change, global leadership, public health, and the Republican legacy, the two former EPA administrators say there is “simply no choice” in this election.

“This is a hugely consequential election; the stakes are that high. That is why as Republicans, we support Hillary Clinton for President,” write William D. Ruckelshaus, the first EPA administrator under President Richard Nixon who served again under President Ronald Reagan, and William K. Reilly, EPA administrator under President George H. W. Bush.

They paint environmental protection as a Republican legacy, pointing out that Nixon created the EPA and oversaw the passage of the Clean Air Act, one of the country’s most prominent environmental laws. Reagan ratified the Montreal Protocol, an international agreement that is credited with stopping the growth of the ozone hole, and the first Bush president used the Clean Air Act to address acid rain, the former administrators write.


“Republicans have a long history of support for the environment dating back to Theodore Roosevelt,” they write. “Donald Trump threatens to destroy that legacy of respect for the environment and protection of public health.”

In recent days, Trump has said that, as president, he would ask all federal agencies to audit their regulations, cutting any they thought were unnecessary. He has pledged to dismantle the EPA entirely.

“We Republicans should be shocked, outraged even, at the prospect that all this progress, this legacy will be repudiated and rolled back by Donald Trump,” the write.

Trump’s energy policy adviser, Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-ND), broadly supports oil extraction and denies human-caused climate change. Cramer is expected to advise Trump to repeal President Obama’s landmark carbon regulations.

On Monday, Trump offered an energy policy speech that looked to double down on fossil fuels and roll back regulation.

As Tuesday’s letter suggests, by and large regulators — particularly environmental regulators — believe that the work they do is important, even life-saving. The EPA’s Clean Power Plan, for instance, is estimated to prevent 3,500 premature deaths, 1,000 hospitalizations, and about 220 heart attacks each year, once it is implemented. Harvard researchers recently calculated that it would also have a $38 billion economic benefit.

Trump has said that climate change is a hoax.

“He hasn’t a clue about Republicans’ historic contributions to science-driven environmental policy: the incontestable environmental improvements in the restored lakes and rivers, the acid rain controls, the reduction of key air pollutants by 70, 80, and 90 percent, and the sharp decline in pollution from automobiles even as their numbers more than doubled,” the former administrators write.


The letter’s authors are the latest in a long line of Republicans who refuse to endorse — or even outright reject — the party’s nominee, Donald Trump. Also on Tuesday, Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) published an op-ed in the Washington Post, saying she will not vote for him.