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Environmental Protection Agency
| A bunch of tree-huggers|
|Save the rainforests!|
|Watch that carbon footprint!|
The Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA, is an executive department in the United States charged with protecting the environment and overseeing human health issues as they relate to the environment. A child of the social upheaval that was the 1960s, the EPA was created by
that noted commie and tree-loving hippy liberal Richard Nixon, in December, 1970. Arguably, public awareness raised by Rachel Carson's masterpiece, Silent Spring, published several years before, played a role in the eventual creation of this vital government agency.
The EPA has been involved in, among other things:
- Removing lead from as many products as possible (although the European Union's ROHS initiative has gone further)
- Setting effective air and water quality standards, following the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts
- Regulating greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act
- Irritating perverse business interest groups
- Setting fuel economy standards for cars sold in the US
- Establishing and maintaining the list of endangered species, including the polar bear
The Thin Green Line
“”I want to replace, not reform EPA, because EPA is made up of self-selected bureaucrats who are anti-American jobs, anti-American business, anti-state government, anti-local control, and I don’t think you can reeducate them.
The EPA has come under increased scrutiny from Republican administrations, particularly in bad economic times when companies can point to regulation and say "yo, get rid of these and we'll make more jobs." They even blame the EPA for nearly all forms of pollution. Almost every GOP candidate for President since Romney has pledged to reign in or kill the EPA. It probably will not survive another Republican term.
Most conservatives accept that air pollution is an actual thing, they just believe it is the onus of big business to regulate itself. (Which is why they never lobby for looser restrictions or cheat during inspections.) The other tendency for small-government types is to claim these problems would be solved by expanding property rights, so as to fill the private courts with these types of cases, as though the threat of litigation alone is a deterrent. (Never mind the Exxon Valdez civil case only took 19 years to finally reach a settlement.)
You see, in libertarian Crazy Town, the solution to polluted air and oceans and rivers is simple: Sell off the air and the oceans and the rivers to the highest bidder. Then the owners will protect it, or something.
We haven't quite figured out how you keep birds from flying, or fish from swimming, or build sky/ocean fences to keep "your" fish and "your" birds in "your" ocean and "your" land"... Actually, we're not sure they've figured out how to keep water/air from flowing, either. It's almost as if "property" is a man-made concept which makes no sense when applied to states of matter.
The EPA under Trump
Indeed, Donald Trump and most Republicans in Congress have continued to undermine the EPA. Trump appointed Scott Pruitt, a man who filed lawsuits against the EPA and a declared climate change denialist, to lead of the agency. The irony can hardly be ignored.
Not surprisingly, environmental protection in the United States has been in free fall. The EPA sees many of its regulations and programs becoming rescinded or rolled back. Those introduced under Barack Obama are especially targeted out of spite.   This means Trump is removing protections against climate change, exacerbating the damage inflicted by extreme weather, politicizing the relevant science, allowing pollution and food poisoning to occur more frequently and on larger scales. He even cuts a "life-saving" program that specifically helps children just because it mentions "climate change", itself a phrase that he banned from being used in his administration.
In mid-2018, Scott Pruitt resigned, after a series of scandals and controversies. His replacement, Andrew Wheeler, is a former lobbyist for the coal industry.
- Endangered Species Act (ESA), NOAA
- "The Republican plan to abolish the EPA, ending the four-decade bipartisan consensus to ensure healthy air and water for our kids", ThinkProgress 2.17.11.
- Wellington, Beth, "Why the GOP is going after the EPA", The Guardian. 9.12.11.
- Anthony Watts, "Shocker: Global warming may simply be an artifact of clean air laws", 9.9.13.
- Murray Rothbard, "Law, Property Rights, and Air Pollution", Originally published in the Cato Journal 2, No. 1 (Spring 1982): pp. 55-99.
- Four Republicans propose a bill to abolish the Environmental Protection Agency
- Scott Pruitt Quits As Head of US Environment Agency. BBC News. July 6th, 2018.