As Donald Trump continues to pursue his unorthodox agenda, it has been nearly impossible to keep up with all the news coming out of this administration. Since Trump was sworn into office, there has been a lot of commotion regarding his immigration ban and potential administrative ties to Russia. These issues are pre-occupying American citizens in the sense that everyone is disregarding other major policies that may be implemented by Trump’s administration and the Republican-controlled Congress. One of the most important issues that have been forgotten is the state of the environment and the agency that has been assigned the job to protect it: the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The EPA began its operation in 1970 when President Nixon issued an executive order, creating the federal agency that enforces federal-environmental laws along with conducting research on environmental issues, among other things. Now, the almost 50-year old agency is at risk of being eradicated.
4 Republican Congressman have introduced legislation that seeks to completely abolish the EPA. Florida Representative, Matt Gaetz, who is the primary sponsor of this bill, cites job creation as his main objective.
Gaetz says: “Our small businesses cannot afford to cover the costs associated with compliance, too often leading to closed doors and unemployed Americans”.
If the EPA is indeed abolished, Gaetz says tackling environmental issues will be a matter for state and local governments to address. Gaetz ultimately believes this will lead to more effective and efficient environmental protection.
There are 3 other co-sponsors of the bill: Barry Loudermilk (GA), Thomas Massie (KY) and Steven Palazzo (MS). All of these Congressmen, including Gaetz, have a track record of voting against federal-environmental regulations and have taken thousands of dollars from the fossil fuel industry. Of course, the fossil fuel industry is fighting against expanding environmental regulations by the federal government because it is well known that fossil fuels are disastrous for the environment.
Gaetz, a first-time Congressman, is known for relentlessly fighting a Florida-state law that requires all gasoline sold in Florida to contain a certain percentage of ethanol, which is believed to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by automobiles. Also, a super PAC supporting him received a $100,000 donation from Harness Oil & Gas when he was running for Congress in 2016.
Massie’s voting history includes voting to overturn a rule that limits methane emissions on federal land and co-sponsoring legislation that sought to reduce the number of bodies of water included under the Clean Water Act. His campaign donations are just as damaging with Massie raking in almost $135,000 from the fossil fuel industry. Major fossil fuel companies such as Koch Industries, Chevron, Halliburton and Exxon have donated money to Massie over his 3 Congressional campaigns.
Loudermilk’s profile is headlined by his tendency to vote on the reduction of environmental regulations, specifically a measure that would eradicate renewable fuel standards in the Clean Air Act. The Congressman from Georgia has received more than $60,000 in political donations from fossil fuel companies such as Exxon, Koch Industries and Valero Energy. Moreover, in 2015 Loudermilk received funding from the state of Georgia to speak at a “conservative policy summit” which was hosted by the Heritage Foundation, an organization that is known for denying climate change.
Last but not least there is Steven Palazzo. Palazzo voted “yes” to open the Outer Continental Shelf to drilling along with being in favor of barring the EPA from regulating greenhouse gases. Of the $265,000 Palazzo received from energy and natural resource companies, $168,000 is from the oil and gas industry. Some of his contributors include General Electric, Koch Industries and Chevron.
It does not end there; Donald Trump has appointed Scott Pruitt, who is a vocal opponent of the EPA and has personally sued the agency on 14 separate occasions.
Despite the Congressional Republican’s attempt to abolish the EPA, Congressional Democrats are not worried about the future of the federal agency. Officials in Congress cited multiple reasons for this; among the reasons are Gaetz being an amateur Congressman, the complexity of repealing the laws that the EPA enforces, and Trump’s still vague position on the issue.
–Contributed by: Bobby Amendola