Hillbilly Environmentalist: Like Them or Not, Regulations Protect your Health

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On February 24, 2017, President Trump issued Executive Order 13777, “Enforcing the Regulatory Reform Agenda,” a federal policy “to alleviate unnecessary regulatory burdens” on the American people. The EO directs federal agencies—e.g., Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)—to establish a task force to identify any regulations that eliminate jobs, are outdated or ineffective, that impose costs that exceed benefits, or interfere with regulatory reform initiatives and policies. One section of the EO calls on the task force to “seek input and other assistance, as permitted by law, from entities significantly affected by Federal regulations, including State, local, and tribal governments, small businesses, consumers, non-governmental organizations, and trade associations…”

One may reasonably ask—a colleague and I had this very discussion a few weeks ago—if excessive or unnecessary EPA regulations exist. We may assume that surely such regulations do exist, but it does not take long to see that these regulations exist for one purpose and one purpose only: To PROTECT Americans and our incredible natural resources.

EPA lists on its website the laws and executive orders for which it creates and enforces environmental regulations. The list is surprisingly short. On the list are such landmark environmental laws such as the Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, and Endangered Species Act. There’s the Toxic Substances Control Act, which “addresses the production, importation, use, and disposal of specific chemicals including polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), asbestos, radon and lead-based paint.” How about the Ocean Dumping Act, Nuclear Waste Policy Act, Noise Control Act, Food Quality Protection Act, EO 13045: Protection of Children from Environmental Health Risks and Safety Risks, and the Safe Drinking Water Act? See anything superfluous there?

A lot of press has been given to President Trump’s negative stance on EPA’s (and DOT’s) corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards of 2011, which would require car manufacturers to reach the equivalent of 54.5 miles per gallon for the average new vehicle in 2025. President Trump says that these regulations are killing American jobs by placing undue regulations on the car industry, but some reports predict that these standards will actually create jobs, all the while leading to significantly reduced emissions of harmful/planet-warming gases.

Clearly, the Trump Administration issued EO 13777 to eliminate some, or many, of the regulations written and enforced by EPA—remember that these regulations are based upon laws passed by Congress and signed by Presidents, including both Bushes and President Nixon, or are based upon just a few Executive Orders. But EPA and Scott Pruitt are required to solicit public input, and this is where we can use our democratic, nature-loving voices to be heard.

The public input page went live on April 13, 2017, and EPA will take comments until May 15, 2017. In the first week, there were only just over 3,000 comments made, and at the time I am writing this—the wee hours of Thursday, April 20—the anonymous comments shown are all pro-regulation, pro-environmental protection.

  • I’m old enough to remember orange skies and burning rivers. The regulations that cleaned our air and water need to be strengthened if anything.
  • The idea behind EO 13777, that the United States is burdened by massive amounts of unnecessary environmental regulations, is ridiculous. 
  • The existing regulations are necessary for ensuring human health and protecting the environment. I am adamantly opposed to any and all rollbacks.

I appeal to you to follow these simple steps to make a positive statement for environmental and human protection:

  1. Follow this link and make a comment (“Comment Now!” button, top right): https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=EPA-HQ-OA-2017-0190-0042. Please write something heart-felt and personal—EPA will eliminate any comments that clearly stem from mass-mail attempts to jam the process.
  2. Post a link to this article and/or the link to the comments page on all your social media sites and ask everyone you know to make a comment.

Let’s not let a few corporations or an anti-environment Administration run the show, to the detriment of us all, in terms of destroying our hard-fought environmental and human protections—not 3,000 comments but 300,000 or 3,000,000 comments for environmental and human health!

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