Recently, the Environmental Protection Agency has been put in danger of major neglect. A freshman Republican in Congress has revealed a bill to abolish the EPA altogether because the EPA has apparently "exceeded their original mission" and "violated the sovereignty of the states." This past week, the Senate confirmed Scott Pruitt as the new head of the EPA under the Trump Administration. Not only are these actions dangerous for the environment, but they are dangerous for human health and the ultimate future of the planet we live on. It shows a lack of understanding for what the EPA does.
The EPA, or Environmental Protection Agency is a Federal government agency that was created to protect human health and the environment. They ensure that Americans are protected from significant risks to human health and the environment where they live, learn and work. They enforce laws that protect human health and the environment, and work to make sure the public has accurate scientific information regarding the environment and specific problems like climate change. They are instrumental in making sure U.S. Policy-making does not put humankind and our environment in danger, and work with other nations to protect the global environment.
The EPA actively develops and enforces regulations, gives grants to environmental programs, studies environmental issues, teaches people about the environment, and publishes information related to human health and the environment.
The presence and work of the EPA is especially important when global Carbon Dioxide levels are still increasing rapidly, sea levels are rising, and global climate changes are harming farming practices across the globe. Climate change "skeptics" are putting the EPA at risk because they don't "believe" that humans are contributing to the warming global temperatures. Scott Pruitt is among the disbelievers, stating that climate change is a "religious belief." Despite the substantial scientific evidence that humankind is causing the rapid rates of climate change, it is more convenient for many industries to release toxic gases into the air, let industrial discharge out into rivers, and cause more harm to the environment. The EPA regulates many of these actions, and deregulation not only poses a threat to the immediate environment, but could cause harm to human health across the country.
The EPA has a long history of victories for the environment and human health. Here's a list of just some of their accomplishments and programs since their inception:
o Monitored radiation levels around Three Mile Island after the reactor meltdown in 1979
o Sponsored the first Earth Day, now one of the largest days of grassroots community service
o Banned the use of DDT in agriculture because of its hazard to human health
o Aided in the completion of a comprehensive plan to combat climate change
o Assessed the conditions of drinking water and wastewater treatment facilities after Hurricane Sandy in 2012
o Set a Carbon Pollution standard for power plants, to reduce air pollution
o Helped decrease mercury poisoning by setting mercury standards on power plants
o Aided in the emergency response to the BP Oil Spill in 2010
o Contributed money to the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, addressing the toxic smoke that comes from inadequate indoor stoves and helped people in third world countries own cleaner stoves
o Major research on climate change, resulting in a Nobel Peace Prize for 30 EPA workers
o Contributed money to environmental education in public schools
In Massachusetts alone, further damages to the environment can be prevented if the EPA remains an active part of the government. Filling wetlands have destroyed about 1/3 of New England’s coastal wetlands since the early 1800’s. Many of these areas are now protected by the EPA, and deregulation would give industries a chance to fill in more wetlands, destroying a vital ecosystem that absorbs water, organic material, and acts as a buffer.
Warming waters have led to a decline in cod and lobster populations South of Cape Cod. The loss of wetlands has decreased the bass and clam populations; all of which are key to the Massachusetts economy. Storm damage in the 21st century could cost Boston $5-100 billion dollars, depending on the response to rising sea levels. The EPA contributes significantly to research in climate and has the power to regulate carbon emissions and foster relationships with other nations to reduce the rate at which the global average temperatures are rising.
The Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act regulate the discharge of pollutants and ensure our water is safe to drink, and our output of greenhouse gases is reduced to slow the effects of climate change. Without the EPA, the protection of the environment would fall to the hands of local and state governments, causing massive deregulation, in some cases allowing different industries to pollute the environment in hazardous ways.
The EPA's mission is to protect our world, and losing it would be detrimental in numerous ways. For the future of our country and generations to come, we need to protect the EPA, prevent the Keystone XL and Dakota Access Pipelines from being built, and head towards a future of renewable, sustainable energy. We cannot allow climate change deniers to run our Environmental Protection Agency, and we cannot stop standing up for our land.