BUFFALO, N.Y. — Once a week for more than a year, environmental advocates in Buffalo have gathered to protest the U.S. transport of nuclear material from Canada over the Peace Bridge.
"They could have stopped it before it started. That would've been the wise thing to do," said Sister Margaret Quinlan, one of the regular protesters.
They said the Environmental Protection Agency should have stepped in to stop a practice they believe puts lives at risk.
"There should have been an environmental impact statement, a full assessment of the environmental risks," said Charley Bowman, WNY Peace Center Environmental Justice Task Force Co-Chair.
It's just one of a laundry list of issues environmentalist in Western New York have with the EPA. The agency has actively rolled back standards and regulations, aiming at more business and industry-friendly policy.
"I'm a retired scientist so I think for me personally, I think the elimination of scientists from the advisory board, I think is pretty well up there," Bowman said.
When EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt resigned Thursday, it was met with enthusiasm from activists.
"We were at a meeting last night when I first heard about it and I thought, this is great. This is great news," Quinlan said.
Advocates said the resignation of Pruitt could only be a step in the right direction but without knowing much about the new administrator, Andrew Wheeler, they expect that step might only be a small one at best.
"It's squeezing a tiny pimple on the boil of the administration of our horrific environmental policy," Bowman said.
Pruitt left his position amid a number of controversies not directly related to the agency's agenda, one many believe Wheeler will continue to push forward. Still, Quinlan believes public pushback had at least something to do with the resignation.
"Yes, it is a positive thing. It means that somehow, something is being heard that people are very, very angry about some of the things that are happening," she said.
While they understand not everyone has time to demonstrate, they said people who aren't happy with the administration's environmental policies should at least let their representatives know.