H. R. 861 – A bill, “To terminate the Environmental Protection Agency”

H. R. 861 – A bill, “To terminate the Environmental Protection Agency”

H.R. 861 is a bill with one purpose, expressed via one line: “To terminate the Environmental Protection Agency” (https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/861/text). Needless to say, many disagree with this bill. In fact some argue that this bill’s hyper-simplicity ensures that it will never pass – the line of thought is that because laws and regulations that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) oversees will still exist, one will need to have an EPA in some way shape or form (https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/115/hr861/summary?utm_campaign=govtrack_email_update&utm_source=govtrack/email_update&utm_medium=email) and while this may prove to be true – it is exigent that we speak up against this bill.

For many a year now the Republican position on the EPA is that it creates regulations that kill jobs, pull the economy down and are bad for business; yet these arguments are not supported by the facts. Of course it is true that regulations put a financial burden on companies – meeting new standards requires an outlay of monies – yet regulations also create jobs, for example in compliance and clean-up aka pollution abatement. In addition EPA regulations save monies by improving the health and quality of life of Americans thus allowing people to have fewer sick days, work more days and be more productive: “Surveys of small businesses routinely fail to find compelling evidence that firms view taxes and regulations as a major impediment to hiring, an EPA-mandated clean-up of the Chesapeake BAY is anticipated to create 35 times as many jobs as the proposed construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, and jobs in the coal industry actually increased by 10 percent after the EPA cracked down on mountaintop-removal mining in 2009” (Jeff Spross, New Study: The Economic Benefits of EPA Regulations Massively Outweigh The Costs, https://thinkprogress.org/new-study-the-economic-benefits-of-epa-regulations-massively-outweigh-the-costs-1bdd9097856a).

Economists have varying ways of calculating the cost-benefit ratio of EPA regulations, however even conservative approaches find that EPA regulations (and in truth essentially all regulations) have an overall positive impact on jobs, the economy and businesses. Read any one of the following news articles, which come from various years and cover a variety of EPA regulations and you will hear this point repeated over and over again:http://www.pbs.org/newshour/making-sense/why-the-benefits-of-the-epas-new-carbon-rule-outweigh-the-costs-for-the-u-s-just-not-by-as-much-as-youve-heard/; https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-epas-costs-and-benefits/2011/09/01/gIQAP3uhxJ_story.html?utm_term=.8621f93590bb; http://www.livescience.com/29388-epa-tops.html; https://www.usnews.com/opinion/economic-intelligence/2015/06/08/epa-clean-water-rules-benefits-outweigh-its-costs; http://www.triplepundit.com/2013/05/economic-benefits-epa-regulations-vastly-outweigh-costs/. Thus, when one looks to the data it is clear that the EPA is not a foe to our jobs, our economy or American business.

Additional reasons as to why we need the EPA come from looking back at its history. Before the EPA America was contending with an environment that was reeling from pollution and contamination – think smog, vile air, burning rivers, DDT and hazardous waste seeping into groundwater. The following articles provide concise reviews as to just how bad things were before the EPA was created: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2016/12/environmental-protection-agency-epa-history-pruitt/, https://www.nrdc.org/stories/why-we-need-epa, http://www.audubon.org/news/why-we-need-strong-epa. Looking to our future we see even more reasons as to why we need the EPA – we live on a planet groaning under the realities of climate change.

I would like to propose one last reason for speaking out against this bill – it has to do with the history of the EPA, which was established in 1970 by President Nixon. The EPA was created due to millions of everyday average Americans standing up for the environment, so let’s stand up in gratitude to those who stood up and gifted us a cleaner, healthier more beautiful world and let’s stand up for our future generations: “Nixon didn’t really want to create it [the EPA]. The first EPA administrator, William Ruckelshaus, a third-generation Republican lawyer and politician from Indiana, later recalled that Nixon created the EPA “because of public outrage about what was happening to the environment. Not because Nixon shared that concern, but because he didn’t have any choice.” That April, 20 million Americans had gone outside to participate in the first Earth Day celebrations” (Brian Clark Howard and Robert Kunzig, 5 Reasons to Like the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2016/12/environmental-protection-agency-epa-history-pruitt/).

The words of Rachel Carson, in Silent Spring, speak well to where we find ourselves: “We stand now where two roads diverge. But unlike the roads in Robert Frost‘s familiar poem, they are not equally fair. The road we have long been traveling is deceptively easy, a smooth superhighway on which we progress with great speed, but at its end lies disaster. The other fork of the road — the one less traveled by — offers our last, our only chance to reach a destination that assures the preservation of the earth”.

 

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