Current Events

The Future of the Environmental Protection Agency

The Trump Administration has been making many changes to organizations, legislation and international policies that previous presidents have initiated and maintained. Most recently, you have probably heard word of the proposed changes to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The Environmental Protection Agency is an agency of the federal government, created with the intentions of improving public, human health and the environment through enforcing and writing regulations based on laws passed by Congress. This idea was proposed by President Richard Nixon and later began its operation on December 2, 1970, after an executive order was signed.

The mission of the EPA has maintained several basic goals, including ensuring that all Americans are protected from significant risks to human health in the environment where they live, work, and learn. Additionally, the EPA strongly believes that all parts of society have to have access to not only accurate, but sufficient information, in order to effectively participate in managing human health and environmental risks. The EPA sustains that, “…environmental protection contributes to making our communities and ecosystems diverse, sustainable and economically productive; and the United States plays a leadership role in working with other nations to protect the global environment.”

Whilst this agency was being introduced, it was considerably difficult to convince Americans of the importance of environmental protection, despite the encouragement from President Nixon. Now that new research has been done on climate change, and the public is more informed about the dangers posing our environment, a majority of Americans now support some sort of environmental regulations. But as the Trump Administration has expressed their distaste for the agency, these protections are now in jeopardy.

Throughout his entire campaign, President Donald Trump had preached his promise to eliminate the EPA; during his first 100 days in office he has held true to his word, as he works towards dismantling regulations and the agency. Currently, the Trump Administration is working towards ending several of the complex regulations that went through a formal rulemaking process. These regulations include the fuel economy standards for cars and trucks; the ‘Clean Power Plan’ to reduce CO2 from power plants; rules surrounding mercury and ozone pollution, and several more.

 

In addition, President Trump has made comments approving the Congressional Review Act. The CRA essentially states that Republicans in the House and Senate can kill, by majority vote, certain Obama-era rules completed after late May 2016. There are multiple pieces of legislation that would be vulnerable to CRA disapproval, including emissions standards for landfills, rules around offshore drilling, methane standards for oil and gas drilling, and restrictions on migratory bird hunting. The Trump Administration  is also planning to push for major budget cuts to the EPA. The most irreparable changes that Trump and Congress could make to the EPA is through these budget cuts. Trump’s team plans to cut $513 million from the ‘states and tribal assistance grants’; $193 million in savings from terminating climate programs; as well as $109 million in savings from ‘environment programs and management.’ Finally, Trump wants to make it clear that he is not just interested in repealing Obama-era legislation, but seeks to hamper future regulations. The Trump Administration has stated in multiple press conferences that they will be introducing the EPA’s science advisory process, to eliminate ‘inherent bias.’

For those who have believed that there were too many Obama-era environmental regulations and that these rules are hampering corporations, Trump’s latest moves are a relief. But for those who fear the dangers of excess pollution to our planet, the next three years will be a difficult and scary time.

 

– Maggie Di Sanza

Categories: Current Events

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