Past and present service of the EPA is of the utmost importance
April 20, 2017
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Since taking office in January, President Trump has not exactly continued his predecessor’s crusade for environmental preservation. In this time of transition and rollbacks in regulation, it is important to remember why the Environmental Protection Agency was created and the vast amounts of good it has done over the years.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was established through an executive order by President Richard Nixon in 1970 with the purpose of protecting human health and the environment. Its creation was sparked by growing public concern regarding human impacts on the environment. Key areas of focus include water and air quality control, land use and preservation, waste disposal, and species management.
Since its formation, the EPA has been monumental in the improvement of public health and the preservation of the country’s natural resources. The agency does not strive to slow progress of work or delay building projects as some high ranking officials in Washington proclaim. EPA regulations are meant to better the quality of living while reducing human impacts on the environment.
In 1972 the EPA banned the use of DDT (Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane), a chemical widely used as an insecticide. After monitoring and study of DDT, the EPA was able to conclude that the chemical was highly cancerous. DDT also accumulated within the food chain. The chemical was sprayed onto crops to kill insects. The crops were fed to animals such as cattle and swine. These animals would eat the crops and the DDT would then pass to them. The livestock was then slaughtered for consumption and DDT and all its carcinogenic properties passed to humans.
In 1992 the EPA banned the dumping of sewage sludge into oceans and coastal waters. This law not only preserved seaside recreation but it also protected ocean life. Tons of sewage were discharged into oceans, polluting the waters, and degrading natural ocean ecosystems. This law also greatly helped the fishing industry. The dumping of sewage into the oceans had adverse effects on fish populations and fisheries across the country suffered as a result.
Although the two examples of EPA legislation mentioned above occurred well over twenty year ago, the need for the agency’s work is crucial for modern affairs. Current concerns include the study of fracking and its side effects, car emissions, and monitoring the use of crop biotechnology such as the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). These are matters specific to the EPA and it is absolutely necessary that its work continues.
President Trump has called for a 31% cut in EPA funding. This would eliminate 20% of the agency’s workforce and reduce the agency’s budget by $3 billion. President Trump has said he wants to eliminate federal regulation and give power back to individual states. These proposed cuts would be a major step in that direction, if approved.
Regulation can and should be reduced in some instances, but this cannot be done properly through the suggested methods of the current administration. If President Trump’s proposed budget cuts are approved, the EPA would be the hardest hit as a result. Entire divisions of the agency will be reduced to individuals. Regulations must be reviewed one at a time
Recent negative coverage of the EPA has spread a stigma that the agency is unnecessary and must be significantly reduced. It is vital to remember the role the EPA has played throughout its history. Work must be allowed to continue and the correct resources must be made available for this to be done properly. The quality of life within the United States would be significantly diminished were it not for human and environmental health concerns protected by the EPA.