August 7, 2017

Terminating the Environmental Protection Agency

The right’s favorite whipping boy is the target of H.R. 861 and a lot more besides

by Chris Thomas

H.R. 861 is legislatively unusual for a number of reasons, least of which is its length; it is just 10 words long.

The Environmental Protection Agency shall terminate on December 31, 2018.

Of course, the EPA is an 8.1 billion dollar a year agency of the federal government, employing more that 15,000 people and overseeing thousands of federal projects in every state. Simply ending it would have profound economic impacts to say nothing of the environmental consequences. The bill is what Time describes as “ a ‘messaging bill’ designed solely to get attention.”

So EPA is perfectly safe, even in the age of Trump.

But its budget and mission are not. Since taking office, President Trump has proposed cutting more than 30% of the EPA’s budget including cuts as high as 25% to the “Superfund” hazardous waste cleanup project.

Why does this matter?

H.R. 861 is important, therefore, not because it has any chance of passing but because it signals the anti-environmental and pro-business agenda of the Congress and President. It is the most visible and radical of a whole slate of decisions, budgets, rules, and propositions which seek to boost business profits by reducing the burden of regulation.

Among them…

  • H.R. 637 — effectively bans the EPA from regulating greenhouse gases
  • S. 21 — the RAISE act — which requires Congressional approval for executive branch policy making, effectively raising the political barrier for environmental regulations.
  • Banning Third Party Settlement — the practice, banned by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, encouraged environmental projects and other contributions to the public good as part of settlements in government lawsuits.
  • Closing the Office of Environmental Justice — which helps poor communities deal with the costs imposed by pollution and its cleanup.

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