Republican EPA chiefs blast Pres. Trump's handling of EPA

Former EPA administrators who served under Presidents Reagan, George W. Bush and George H.W. Bush discuss the state of the EPA.
7:08 | 06/11/19

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Transcript for Republican EPA chiefs blast Pres. Trump's handling of EPA
Today I caught up with the three Republican former EPA administrators to talk about the state of live affairs at the agency. And our climate we Thomas who served in the Reagan administration Christine Todd Whitman the George W Bush Administration. In bill Reilly of the George Herbert Walker Bush presidency all met with me to offer their insights on how things are going right now. It's so rare to see so many former EPA administrators Republicans and Democrats together. In one place what message are you trying to send here we. I think a message particularly on all seven of us who wrote the letter to this committee. Was that EPA it's an incredibly important agency. It has always enjoyed about partisans poured. And we'll quite concerned about the direction EPA's taken in this administration and we want to talk to the oversight committee about our concerns about the role we think they need to play. In the human those concerns. There's more to ditto but. It's because we've been it's things are better people don't see this quite as immediate issue as they used if you're to give agreed. To the leadership of the EPA right now on this stewardship that they are doing with their mission which is to protect the environment human health a letter grade. What letter grade would you give DDs. Not failing close. Maybe an F. Yeah I'm right in that same category. Because so it's a very difficult to situation what concerns you most. Well I'm really concerned about being disrespectful science that we're seeing this administration the undermining of science in the importance of science. That is sending a message to young people they. Don't care and other trying to confuse issues like climate change to me that's an enormous enormous thing facing I've got seven grandchildren. I want them to grow up in. The clean air and clean water and any. Kind of environment that's sustainable. I really worry that we're rolling back regulations to protect actually what would President Reagan. Say about the state of affairs at the appear written anything. Well we had a very similar situation in 1983. Tremendous controversy. The agency was in turmoil. And what President Reagan said was we need to change we need change and as a result he got bill raucous house came back come back and we totally change the management. We change the whole direction got back to the mission of the agency so I think that's what President Reagan would say look that's not how want this agency opera. Do you do you think bill what to do anything right right now is there anything from point two NC that's actually surprisingly on track look. And so truth the past two years have caused us to load the bar quite significantly but the budget has been can. Kept up reasonably well it's better than I would be despite the threats of got a good inflation is way to look Muslim nicer when they serve. But that's good and the administration's proposals to cut the budget by a third and to cut the staff by a third congress' happily ignored. I'm very concerned about the fact that. We're seeing. Downgrades are far we're seeing good people leave that agency and the last thing you won't is good solid technical people leave in EPA. I can talk from a business point of view our government when he view you need and Egypt's it is credible. Has consistency in that room making any science based in that role might as Arafat. I think of common refrain all of you it's that you expressed concern about science. Being given a vaccine in this debate right now I'm gonna mention. My. Spoken remarks today. That they just had a meeting last week in the science advisory board that was told from the borders of the United States enforcement that it was a policy issue. Science played almost normal. I mean it's that's extraordinary to me. Scientists including four for one duke it is is that a leadership at the top issue and we know the president's view I think. I mean you EPA administrator you don't set policy the White House its policy you. Give them the best advice tell them when you think they're on the right track of the contract or how to do what they want to do the best way possible must've been protective of the mission. Sorts to seven atop. We we sat down with it. Mr. Wheeler just about a month or so goes justice he was screw justice he was confirmed. On the job and asked him if he thinks the climate change as the president has said is a hoax. And perhaps reassuringly he said it's not a hoax he doesn't think it's Oakes visits to rule phenomenon. But he said he doesn't think it's a crisis she doesn't think it's at this stage worst case scenario stage that's laid out in the national climate assessment. That's not the only thing that says national assessment area or weren't there are several categories of possibilities is business as usual and then there's an intervention serious intervention. That's an unfair characterization. Of the assessment. Be the assessment. Does best by pointing to the fact that if nothing changes we continue business as usual. It is catastrophic it's probably six degrees and factor which will. Destroy a lot of species cause huge amounts estimated 200 million of migrants to take to the road. But is it isn't it true now that the error is cleaner than it's ever been the water in this country cleaner than it's ever been. The United States is actually a leader in rolling back carbon. Pollution and in fact has been. You know continuing to dial back its own emissions is and is not something we hear from the president a lot that we should be celebrate. Harper emissions are twenty times defense is under ten years about half. We're not doing that well if climate is the issue we are the number two in that are in the world after China and one of the biggest reasons that. Carbon emissions have gone down past do more with economics than it has to do with anything this administration has gone if anything's natural gas yeah exactly and that and the cost of that horses alternatives though. That's been a dramatic change in this country's had an impact pass over. That impact is about challenge I mean we've just that taken advantage of that is for its emission reductions and with growth we're now beginning to see those those emissions creep back up. Do you think we need do you think we need a degree new deal mean do you think tick to counter this when you get a little older that I think are good. But unfortunately they put everything but the kitchen sink in the green new deal which is distraction and you're gonna have to pick out parts and work on boats from environmental point of view it's it's disappointing because it did have things outside of the environment and that. Which. I think undermined the message and it's too important message we really do need to focus on the environment. I am told by so many Republican members of congress that they are never asked about climate. When they go on the stump when they go home another arrest him. That is marvelous it's included on the agenda it's raised the profile got a lot of vitality particularly among young people. The green new deal is a good thing. A fascinating conversation or thanks again to the administrators the full conversation. But with administrators Christie Riley. And Thomas can all be found an abcnews.com. And on my Twitter at Devin Dwyer.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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