Monday, March 20, 2017

Why Would A President Choose To Deregulate The Environmental Protection Agency?

Recently, as in the last month, the news cycle has included an inordinate amount of stories regarding the Environmental Protection Agency.  Shortly after the inauguration of President Trump, news stories started to appear hinting at the possibility of a nominee for the director of the EPA -- Scott Pruitt.  Why Scott Pruitt?  One reason is to cater to the coal and oil community.  President Trump made promises to the coal community to bring back clean coal.  As if there is such a possibility -- clean coal.  Really?  In the post below, a short exploration of deregulation is conducted with a few implications and effects of the grand idea of the President's administration to dismantle the "administrative state."  The following questions are of interest to answer:

1) What does de-regulation mean for the EPA?

2) What effect would that have on the EPA?

3) What effect would de-regulation have on the environment?

The questions above are a natural progression from the beginning of the post.  More questions could be asked by scientists, but for the time being, lets focus on the three above to start with.

What Does The EPA Do?

In order to want to deregulate the Environmental Protection Agency, the Presidential administration must know what the organizations does.  The following description of the agency was taken from 'Wikipedia' for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is shown below:

The United States Environmental Protection Agency[2] (EPA or sometimes USEPA) is an agency of the Federal government of the United States which was created for the purpose of protecting human health and the environment by writing and enforcing regulations based on laws passed by Congress.[3] The EPA was proposed by President Richard Nixon and began operation on December 2, 1970, after Nixon signed an executive order. The order establishing the EPA was ratified by committee hearings in the House and Senate.[4] The agency is led by its Administrator, who is appointed by the president and approved by Congress. The current administrator is Scott Pruitt.[5] The EPA is not a Cabinet department, but the administrator is normally given cabinet rank.
The EPA has its headquarters in Washington, D.C., regional offices for each of the agency's ten regions, and 27 laboratories. The agency conducts environmental assessment, research, and education. It has the responsibility of maintaining and enforcing national standards under a variety of environmental laws, in consultation with state, tribal, and local governments. It delegates some permitting, monitoring, and enforcement responsibility to U.S. states and the federally recognized tribes. EPA enforcement powers include fines, sanctions, and other measures. The agency also works with industries and all levels of government in a wide variety of voluntary pollution prevention programs and energy conservation efforts.
In 2016, the agency had 15,376 full-time employees.[1] More than half of EPA's employees are engineers, scientists, and environmental protection specialists; other employees include legal, public affairs, financial, and information technologists.

The operating budget of the EPA over the last few years is shown below with the respective workforce for a given year:

The amount seems rather low considering the responsibility of the organization.  In recent blog post, I highlighted what the federal agencies responsibilities were and gave a snapshot into their website --worth viewing.  The example that I displayed in the post was of the investment into research for safe drinking water.  Not very many people understand that various federal agencies fund basic research which eventually fuels technological development.  Furthermore, that the research that congress allocates funds for is payed for by tax-payer dollars -- Yep - we are paying for the research.  Of course, each of us like to turn on the faucet and observe clean water emerging out of it -- Right?

Additionally, contained in that post was a list of regulatory topics which inform the public on the broad scope of the work of the EPA.  Typically, people (from what I observe) view the EPA only regulating the air and pollution.  Upon inspection of the website, you will find a huge breadth of scope of regulations -- which make up a portion of the agencies responsibility.  Another large component is enforcement of regulations.

What happens if we reduce the number of regulatory enforcers at the EPA?

I am reminded of a recent post that I wrote regarding what America would look like with little-to-no regulation on drinking water.  Just think of the images of the "clean water" coming out of Flint, Michigan during the water crisis as shown below:

Would you like to see water that discolored flowing into a drinking glass from your faucet?

The EPA is responsible for ensuring that crisis like Flint (Michigan) do not occur.  But, as usual, the federal agencies find themselves heavily understaffed.  Imagine having less that 15,000 employees to regulate the water across the nation.  Remember, water quality is just one of many responsibilities charged to the EPA.  Not to mention air quality management, chemical toxicity and regulation, chemical spills and disaster regulation which include oil spills and chemical explosions.  In order to properly regulate the large corporations which are damaging our environment, we need more staff on hand to ensure that corporations are abiding by the regulations set by the government.  

Which is why I am so astounded as to the reason why President Trump thinks that cutting funding to the EPA is a good idea?

In the next section, I will briefly show a few excerpts of the news surrounding potential changes at the EPA along with the potential fall-out of those changes.

President Trump's Expected Changes To The EPA

The first major damaging change to the EPA is the nomination of Scott Pruitt by President Trump.  This might sound negative, but evidence to the contrary will be shown.  Since the new director Scott Pruitt now leads the effort to dismantle the EPA, a natural assumption would be that the special interests who are lobbying for him (and his nomination) are interested in promoting their corporate ideas.  Over the last few months, the ideas have surfaced:

1) Clean Coal

2) Emission Standards (automobiles, power plants, etc.) rolled back

3) Clean Water Act (removed)

4) Clean Air Act (removed)

5) Eliminate 'accident-investigating Chemical Safety Board'

With these initiatives in mind, I thought that an update into accomplishing them would be in order.  President Trump just unrolled a 'first draft' of his budget plan a few days ago.  The hardest hit agency is of course the EPA as promised.  Why?   The President must believe that the predominant mission of the agency is to study and regulate climate change processes.  At least, that is what the news has portrayed the situation.  Let's take a look at the past month.

Starting with a post that I wrote a month ago, outlining the promises President Trump made to science, the following question was proposed to him as a candidate regarding climate change:

The Earth’s climate is changing and political discussion has become divided over both the science and the best response. What are your views on climate change, and how would your administration act on those views?

His answer at the time was:

 There is still much that needs to be investigated in the field of “climate change.”  Perhaps the best use of our limited financial resources should be in dealing with making sure that every person in the world has clean water.  Perhaps we should focus on eliminating lingering diseases around the world like malaria.  Perhaps we should focus on efforts to increase food production to keep pace with an ever-growing world population.  Perhaps we should be focused on developing energy sources and power production that alleviates the need for dependence on fossil fuels.  We must decide on how best to proceed so that we can make lives better, safer and more prosperous.

Clean water, lingering diseases, developing energy sources, power production are the focus instead of the atmosphere.  These promises might be acceptable, except that according to the newly released budget, the increase in military spending is on the order of $58 billion dollars at the expense of the fields listed above.  Although, I did report of an increase to the NIH budget by selling oil of $700 million recently -- which is a drop in a bucket.   A 2.16% boost to toward the budget responsible for funding both Medicare and Medicaid.  That is where the president stands on climate research which is funded by the EPA.

How about other areas?

In his answer above, he mentions 'clean water'.  The same questionnaire contained the following question and answer regarding 'clean water':

The long-term security of fresh water supplies is threatened by a dizzying array of aging infrastructure, aquifer depletion, pollution, and climate variability. Some American communities have lost access to water, affecting their viability and destroying home values.  If you are elected, what steps will you take to ensure access to clean water for all Americans?

Then candidate Donald Trump's answer:

This may be the most important issue we face as a nation for the next generation.  Therefore, we must make the investment in our fresh water infrastructure to ensure access to affordable fresh water solutions for everyone.  We must explore all options to include making desalinization more affordable and working to build the distribution infrastructure to bring this scarce resource to where it is needed for our citizens and those who produce the food of the world.  This must be a top priority for my administration.

As I mentioned above and in a recent post, the new administration appears to be dismantling the 'clean water act' which regulates water bodies to ensure safe drinking water.  Evidently, the fracking industry and developments hold greater priority over the safety of your drinking water.  This is dangerous territory based on our findings in Flint (Michigan).  Water and climate change are not the only areas to be cut -- look at the energy sector.

While we sell off oil to fund the NIH, there does not seem to be an increase in investment in energy technology.   Is this in line with candidate Donald Trump's question and answer before assuming office?  Let's see below:

Strategic management of the US energy portfolio can have powerful economic, environmental, and foreign policy impacts. How do you see the energy landscape evolving over the next 4 to 8 years, and, as President, what will your energy strategy be?

Then candidate Donald Trump's answer:

 It should be the goal of the American people and their government to achieve energy independence as soon as possible.  Energy independence means exploring and developing every possible energy source including wind, solar, nuclear and bio-fuels.  A thriving market system will allow consumers to determine the best sources of energy for future consumption.  Further, with the United States, Canada and Mexico as the key energy producers in the world, we will live in a safer, more productive and more prosperous world. 

By reading that answer, one would expect an increase in solar, wind, nuclear and bio-fuel technologies?   According to a recent article in 'Laboratory Equipment' titled "Trump’s 2018 Budget Hits NIH, EPA Hard" the changes to the Department of Energy amount to the following:

The 2018 budget request for the Department of Energy is $28.0 billion—a $1.7 billion or 5.6 percent decrease. "The Budget for DOE demonstrates the Administration’s commitment to reasserting the proper role of what has become a sprawling Federal Government," reads the budget's intro. Trump has requested an increase of $1.4 billion specifically to fund the maintenance of the nuclear weapons stockpile, including $120 million to restart licensing activities for the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository and initiate an interim storage program. However, the Department of Energy’s Office of Science would see a $900 million cut, or 18 percent of its $5 billion budget. Trump’s budget seeks to eliminate the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) program, which focuses on renewable energy with roughly $300 million a year. Another elimination is the Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing Program because “the private sector is better positioned to finance disruptive energy research and development and to commercialize innovative technologies.” 

Not only is the energy program going to be slashed (where basic research into renewable energy is conducted), the Office of Science is going to be reduced by 18% or $900 million.  This is extremely short sighted since the military benefits from the advances made (which turn into technologies) from the program ARPA-E.  The only possible chance for salvation is to route the research money through the DOD (Department of Defense) to further explore renewable energy.

Routing funding in this manner would produce the appearance of a president adjusting money on renewable energy technology (which is still in its infancy) into the military spending to promote the appearance of helping out the military.  In terms of research money spent, the same research would be conducted, just paid for by a different entity.  This appears to be a strong possibility.

The above is concerned directly with the Department of Energy and the post is about the de-regulation of the EPA.  Returning to the deregulation of the EPA, where did the momentum really pick up?  After reading the above answers to questions regarding the environment, the nomination of Scott Pruitt is not entirely surprising.  Although, during his confirmation hearing, questions were raised regarding his views on climate change by both sides of the aisle.

According to an e-mail response from my congressional representative -- Dianne Feinstein, Scott Pruitt did not meet the standard she had hoped for to lead the EPA.  Here is an excerpt from here e-mail to me (in response to a letter I wrote):

That excerpt was in my opposition letter to her regarding the nomination of Scott Pruitt.  Senator Dianne Feinstein's official statement of opposition appears below:

Washington—Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today released the following statement in opposition to Scott Pruitt’s nomination as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency:
“Respect for scientific inquiry and a desire to preserve a healthy environment are core attributes necessary to lead the EPA. Scott Pruitt possesses neither quality, and therefore I must oppose his nomination.
“More than 75,000 Californian’s have contacted my office in opposition to Mr. Pruitt’s confirmation. They are worried he won’t enforce our existing environmental laws and will refuse to address the real threat of climate change. I agree with them.
“During his confirmation hearing, Mr. Pruitt acknowledged that human activity has played a role in climate change. However, his record and ties to major fossil fuel polluters demonstrate extreme hostility toward that view. Throughout his career in Oklahoma, Mr. Pruitt sued the EPA numerous times over its right to enforce regulations of carbon emissions, fought to block federal air and water regulation and challenged the science behind many of the agency’s decisions.
“Mr. Pruitt refused to commit to allow states to develop their own stronger environmental standards, including upholding California’s waiver to establish higher fuel economy standards. These are radical views for someone charged with implementing our nation’s environmental laws.
“It seems that Mr. Pruitt’s only goal may be to weaken from within the very agency he has battled for decades. Confirming Mr. Pruitt as EPA administrator would be an affront to the ideal that a healthy environment is the right of every American.”

After reading Senator Dianne Feinstein's reasonable opposition, you might find yourself suggesting that her opposition is partisan -- that is due to her affiliation with the Democratic party.  I would cite the blog that I wrote a short time ago which contained the opposition letter to Scott Pruitt's nomination from a Republican senator -- Senator Susan Collins of Maine.  Check out her reasonable opposition based on not wanting mercury and other harmful emissions passing through her state.

Reducing the budget of the Environmental Protection Agency would be detrimental to many areas regulated by the agency.  Not everyone is aware that the EPA also regulates chemicals by their toxicity.  Toxic chemicals are regulated by the EPA under the Toxic Substance Control Act which was enacted by congress.  To get an introduction to a few various toxic chemicals -- see the EPA website (click here).

The regulatory responsibility covers such a wide range of issues which are encompassed under the environment which means that there are a tremendous amount of regulations, laws and programs to deal with the massive responsibility.  Here is a link to the EPA web page titled 'Cross Cutting Issues' to give a short introduction to the reader.  Remember to ask yourself the following question while perusing the EPA webpages:

How is reducing the EPA budget going to make our environment a safer place to live?

The above question is extremely important considering the reductions in funding that the EPA along with other federal agencies are going to face at the expense of an increase in funding for the military.  Around the nation currently, there are a few hundred 'superfund sites' which need to be cleaned up.   You might be wondering "What is a superfund site?" -- if so, here is a definition found on a search:

Superfund sites are polluted locations requiring a long-term response to clean up hazardous material contaminations. CERCLA authorized the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to create a list of such locations, which are placed on the National Priorities List (NPL).

Here is an excerpt taken from the "wikipedia" page for a "list of superfund sites" shown below to drive home the point of much needed regulation by the EPA:

These are lists of Superfund sites in the United States, designated under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) of 1980. Superfund sites are polluted locations requiring a long-term response to clean up hazardous material contaminations. CERCLA authorized the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to create a list of such locations, which are placed on the National Priorities List (NPL).[1]
The NPL guides the EPA in "determining which sites warrant further investigation" for environmental remediation.[2] As of February 27, 2014, there were 1322 Superfund sites on the National Priorities List in the United States.[2] Fifty-three additional sites have been proposed for entry on the list.[2] As of February 27, 2014, 375 sites have been cleaned up and removed from the list.[2]

There are 1,322 sites that are still too polluted to inhabit.  WOW!!!  These sites could be old manufacturing plants, oil drilling sites, warehouses which stored hazardous chemicals, reservoirs, etc.  Imagine that there is a piece of land in your town that is uninhabitable due to being labeled a superfund site.  The land just sits there too poisonous to occupy.  In order to clean the land up, the regulators battle (often in court) to get the prior business (which might be out of business) to act responsibly and clean the place up.

Further, imagine if these superfund sites were never generated.  Meaning, each company was proactive and ensured that their practices complied with the best standard for manufacturing and chemicals safety.  Then, there would be no need for regulation.  At this time, then reductions in EPA might make sense (not really).  Unfortunately, we do not live in a world like this where business owners of manufacturing plants are proactive and take a large consideration for the environment into account into their business practices.   Instead, we have a list of superfund sites which remain a national priority to clean up.

So far the above has considered the regulatory aspect of the EPA which gives rise to laws and regulations.  What about the data collection efforts by the EPA?  Below is a list of 'sub-agencies' inside the EPA which are experiencing a 'data flush' -- data is disappearing.  Yes, you heard correctly, the government is getting rid of years of collected data which does not match up with the current administration's priorities -- which are not to promote the environment.  Take a look below at the range of topics taken from an article in the magazine 'The Guardian' titled "A guide to the EPA data under threat by the Trump administration".  Here is an excerpt from the article highlighting the skepticism on behalf of scientists toward the new administrations efforts to dismantle the EPA:

Several highly publicized campaigns are taking place to save the data maintained by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from becoming inaccessible to the public under the Trump administration.

“There is no reason to think the data is safe,” says Gretchen Goldman, research director at the Center for Science and Democracy, a program at the Union of Concerned Scientists. “The administration, so far, hasn’t given any indication it will respect science and scientific data, especially when it’s inconvenient to its policy agendas.”

That data, kept in dozens of databases, represents decades of monitoring the American environment in fine detail. For example: the EPA collects data on the chemical composition of pollutants and their geographic distribution. Here is a list of data sets that gives an idea of the breadth of scientific knowledge that resides with the agency.

Unbelievable.  Remember the post I wrote about the federal agencies experiencing a 'media freeze out' recently?  In that post, I summarized the extent of knowledge (research results) which are publicly available to us since we paid for the research (tax-dollar funded).  Here is a list of the data collection sub-agencies which will be affected and their mission:

1) Emissions Modeling:

Cost-effective ways to reduce air pollution and include emission benefits in Clean Air Act Plans
Many states are adopting, implementing and expanding cost-effective energy efficiency (EE) and renewable energy (RE) policies and programs. States are investing in EE/RE policies and programs to achieve benefits including lowered customer costs, improved electric supply reliability, and diversified energy supply portfolios. Energy efficiency and renewable energy also have the potential to reduce pollution of criteria air pollutants and greenhouse gases, especially on high electricity demand days that typically coincide with poor air quality.
The number of states with EE/RE policies continues to grow, but quantifying the emissions impacts of these policies and programs can be challenging. EPA is committed to helping state air quality planners calculate the emissions benefits of EE/RE policies and program so that these emission reductions can be incorporated in Clean Air Act plans to meet National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) and other clean air goals.
What is AVERT?
AVERT is a free tool with a simple user interface designed to meet the needs of state air quality planners and other interested stakeholders. Non-experts can easily use AVERT to evaluate county, state and regional emissions displaced at electric power plants by EE/RE policies and programs. AVERT is designed to use public data that are accessible and auditable.

2)  Air Markets Program Data:

The Air Markets Program Data tool allows users to search EPA data to answer scientific, general, policy, and regulatory questions about industry emissions. More information about EPA's emissions trading programs can be found on our Programs and Regulations page.

Check out the animated video by clicking here

3) Clean Air Status and Trends Network (CASTNET):

CASTNET site locations, including latitude, longitude, and elevation values, have been updated to reflect site data collected as part of the independent audit program. For more information about the audit program click here: Audit Reports. For the updated site locations download the data file here: Sites. 

4) Emissions and Generation Resource Database:

The Emissions & Generation Resource Integrated Database (eGRID) is a comprehensive source of data on the environmental characteristics of almost all electric power generated in the United States. 

5) Clean Air Market Modeling:

 This area provides information and documentation on EPA’s application of the Integrated Planning Model (IPM) to analyze the impact of air emissions policies on the U.S. electric power sector. EPA has used multiple iterations of the IPM model in various analyses of regulations and legislative proposals. For the development of its latest power sector modeling platform, EPA has increased its external engagement with state air quality planning officials, power company representatives, regional transmission organizations, and others who have provided input on the data, assumptions, and structure of EPA's Power Sector Modeling Platforms.

6) Enforcement Status:

EPA's enforcement and compliance assurance program uses data in many areas, including managing the program and assessing performance. This page offers links to online data sources, as well as information about reports and data systems.

7) Tracking Acid Rain:

Surface water chemistry is a direct indicator of the effects of acid rain on water bodies. Networks that monitor surface water chemistry over long time periods provide valuable information on aquatic ecosystem health and how water bodies respond to changes in acid-causing emissions. EPA oversees two programs that track changes in surface water chemistry in response to changing air emissions and acid deposition: the Long-Term Monitoring (LTM) program and the Temporally Integrated Monitoring of Ecosystems (TIME) program.
The goal of these programs is to track whether the Clean Air Act Amendments (CAAA) (Plain English Guide to the Clean Air Act) have been effective in reducing the acidity of surface waters in New England, the Northern Adirondack Mountains, Appalachian Plateau, and the Central Appalachians.

8) Greenhouse Gas & Reporting Program:

  Check out page full of relevant links to data collection!

9) Greenhouse Gas Data Explorer:

The Data Explorer is an interactive tool that provides access to data from EPA's annual Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks. You can follow the instructions on the right and use the options below to create customized graphs, examine trends over time, and download the data. You can visit other EPA pages to learn more about EPA's national inventory and how it relates to EPA's Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program.

10) Beach Health:

The resources below help state and local officials to monitor beach health and to make decisions about when to restrict access to or close beaches due to unsafe environmental conditions.

11) National Aquatic Resource Surveys:

The following data are available for download as comma separated values (.csv) files. Sort the table using the pull down menus or headers to more easily locate the data. Right click on the file name and select Save Link As to save the file to your computer. Make sure to also download the companion metadata file (.txt) for the list of field labels. See the survey technical document for more information on the data analyses.

12) Watershed Index:

The Watershed Index Online (WSIO) is a national watershed indicator data library and analysis tool for comparing watershed characteristics within user-defined geographic areas.
A watershed, the land area that drains to one stream, lake or river, affects the water quality in the water body that it surrounds. Like water bodies, watersheds differ in many ways. Healthy watersheds not only affect water quality, but also provide greater benefits to the people and wildlife that live there. We all live in a watershed, thus watershed condition is important to everyone.
Comparing watershed differences is one way in which government agencies and citizens learn about their environment, identify water pollution control options and plan for effective restoration and protection. There are literally hundreds of watershed characteristics that may influence water pollution, quality of life and other concerns. These characteristics are mostly environmental traits, sources of stress and environmental damage and community or social factors.
The most relevant characteristics often vary among different purposes for watershed comparison, or from place to place throughout the country. For this reason, a watershed comparison tool must be flexible and offer a broad variety of information to choose from.
The Watershed Index Online (WSIO) is a comparative analysis tool and data library that helps users compare watersheds in a user-defined geographic area, for a purpose of their choice, using the factors most relevant to their comparison.

13) Ambient Water Quality Tools:

 ATTAINS provides information on the conditions of surface waters as reported by the states. Water quality assessment and Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDL) information are required every two years under Clean Water Act Sections 305(b) and 303(d). 

14) National Hydrography Data:

National Hydrography Dataset Plus (NHDPlus) is a national geospatial surface water framework (geofabric). Geospatial analysts and modelers use this framework to support water resources applications. The U.S. EPA developed and maintains NHDPlus in partnership with the U.S. Geological Survey.

15) Hazardous Waste Facility Monitoring:

The RCRAInfo Search allows you to retrieve selected data from the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act Information (RCRAInfo) database in Envirofacts. Specify a facility using any combination of facility name, geographic location, and facility industrial classification.

16) Envirofacts:

Envirofacts offers several choices for downloading data. The search options listed below allow a user to build their own search and download the results to a file. The Geospatial Download feature enables a user to download spatial data files for use in mapping and reporting applications. 

The above links show the extent to which the EPA has collected data on various environmental parameters.  This data is vital to generations of scientists to come for studying historical impacts of either man-made impacts or natural disasters.  If the data is removed or deleted then the science community cannot access the information to study the data.  The idea to change or remove data to fit a political agenda is misguided and will have deleterious effects on generations to come.

Although, President Trump is a business man and he does not like restrictions which slow down or hinder business flow.  The stagnation has a downstream effect on capital gains (investment returns to shareholders).  Therefore, the public should not be surprised at the attempt to deregulate the nation.  The last question to entertain is the obvious one:

Who profits from attempts to deregulation from the economy?

The answer is rather straightforward to an extent.  Any business whose regulations are set by the federal agencies -- is the short answer.  In the next section, I briefly show an example (or two) of industries that stand to profit at the expense of polluting the environment.

Industries That Benefit From Deregulation

The first industry to benefit from President Trump's deregulation (or dismantling) of the EPA is the coal industry.  Instead of advancing 'green renewable energy', the coal industry was promised a 'comeback' in the form of less regulation by then candidate Donald Trump.

The republicans have succeeded in the first month in session with approval from President Trump with the reversal of an Obama era rule on coal mining near streams.  An article appeared in the "New York Times" titled "Republicans Move To Block Rule On Coal Mining Near Streams" describing the move by congress:

Republicans on Thursday took one of their first steps to officially dismantle Obama-era environmental regulations by easing restrictions on coal mining, bolstering an industry that President Trump has made a symbol of America’s neglected heartland.

Using an obscure law that allows Congress to review regulations before they take effect, the Senate voted to reverse the Stream Protection Rule, which seeks to protect the nation’s waterways from debris generated by a practice called surface mining. The Interior Department had said the rule would protect 6,000 miles of streams and 52,000 acres of forests by keeping coal mining debris away from nearby waters.

After reading the above excerpt, I often wonder what is going on in the executives minds of the coal companies.  I guess just one thought -- "money, money, money."  I am appalled that the senate would actually reverse such a vital rule.  The 'Stream Protection Rule' was just one of two that day reversed.  The other rule was referred to as the "Disclosure Rule" which was described as follows:

 The Senate also moved to reverse a separate rule requiring publicly traded oil, gas and mineral companies to disclose payments to foreign governments for licenses or permits. The disclosure rule was aimed at curbing bribery and at helping resource-rich developing countries hold fossil-fuel companies, and their governments, accountable.

On the last rule, the proponents were arguing that the rule would put them at a disadvantage in competing for contracts in foreign countries.  The second rule might seem ambiguous (tricky), but the first rule (Stream Protection Rule) is not:

The Stream Protection Rule, which requires companies to restore mined areas to their original physical and ecological state and to monitor for environmental effects, would have effectively made mountaintop removal uneconomical, experts said — especially when coal prices remain depressed amid competition from natural gas and renewable energy sources like wind and solar.

Seems completely reasonable right?  If your company destroys the ecological state of an area, the company must restore the area to the original state.  What is wrong with this rule?  Business executives do not like to hear that the 'bottom line' of the company is going to be adversely affected (i.e., less profits).  Never mind the pollution caused by reversing the rule:

A report released by the Congressional Research Service last month laid out the environmental and health benefits of the rule. Stream restoration requirements would reduce human exposure to contaminants in the drinking water, and the probability of adverse health effects, the report said. The replanting of trees also required by the rule would increase carbon storage and reduce emissions, aiding in the fight against climate change, the report said.

Many lawmakers really believe that there exists no way to make a profit (great economy) while enforcing energy-efficient technology (environmentally friendly)?   This astounds me along with others.  Recently, I wrote a post where I displayed a video of the actor and former governor Arnold Schwarzenegger discussing how the state of California achieved this very feat.  Watch the 2 minute video in the post.

Another industry which stands to make lots of money with less regulation is the automobile company.  Just look at the scandal which swooped up Volkswagen.  A settlement was reached last between the US government and the Volkswagen company to pay out $4.3 billion for rigging the cars to cheat on emissions test for cars entering the United States.  With this in mind, any deregulation probably sound great.  In a recent article in "The Guardian" titled "Trump begins rollback of Obama's car pollution standards to curb emissions" President Trump gave the United States automakers great news regarding fuel and emission standards:

Trump has directed the Environmental Protection Agency to review fuel efficiency standards that were a key plank of Barack Obama’s effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The move is a victory for carmakers who have claimed the standards are too onerous and out of step with Americans’ car buying habits.
“These standards are costly for automakers and the American people,” said the EPA administrator, Scott Pruitt.
“We will work with our partners at the department of transport to take a fresh look to determine if this approach is realistic. This thorough review will help ensure that this national program is good for consumers and good for the environment.”
In an agreement struck with automakers in 2012, the Obama administration required that cars run 54.4 miles per gallon of fuel by 2025. This standard, up from 27.5 miles per gallon, would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 6bn tons over the lifetime of new vehicles and save 2m gallons of oil per day by 2025.

Why would we as a nation not want to work toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions over the vehicle lifetime by 6 billion tons and save 2 million gallons of oil per day?

Again, if you are an executive in the fossil fuel industry or the automotive industry, this sounds like a person running a metal claw down a chalk board.  Terrible for the bottom line -- profits -- but great for the environment.  Senator Dianne Feinstein wrote a press release explaining the problem:

Washington—Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today released a statement in opposition to the Trump administration’s directive to renegotiate national vehicle pollution standards.
Senator Feinstein was the lead sponsor of the “Ten-in-Ten” fuel-economy law passed in 2007 that requires the administration to set the maximum feasible standards, which are currently set to rise to more than 50 miles per gallon by 2025.
“Stronger vehicle pollution standards have been a tremendous success and there’s absolutely no justification for weakening them. The current standards—required by law to be as strong as possible—will help reduce pollution and lower fuel costs for consumers.
“The standards, which were put in place when taxpayers saved the auto companies in 2009, should be left in place. The industry ought to repay the American public by defending the fuel-economy standards they originally embraced.
“Now is not the time to move backward. We have the right to breathe clean air, and our children have the right to inherit a stable climate. I will fight any attempt to weaken the standards. I’m profoundly disappointed and opposed to this unnecessary directive.”

The current administrations rules regarding deregulation tend to be taking us (as a nation) backwards in time.  This direction is opposite of our competing nations around the world.  The opposition party sites existing countries as examples of where coal is thriving as proof of moving us backwards.  In reality, if those countries had a developed economy like ours, then there would be no need to move backwards rather than forwards.


The deregulation of the Environmental Protection Agency is threatening our competitiveness in the world in a variety of areas.  Science research is just one major area.  As you saw in the paragraphs above, the wide range of research data collected will contribute to the environmental research for decades to come.  Technology is being developed as we speak to extract meaningful results from that data.  Therefore, the ability to possess the data is critical.  We must keep the data accessible to science and the public.

President Trump seems to think that moving forward with less regulation will be a good move.  Dismantling the regulations of the federal agencies to run the country like a capitalist machine with no regulation would be a disaster.  Take a look at China.  China has an environment that looks like what the US used to look like until the current environmental laws and regulations were set forth.  Not all China is polluted.  But industrial areas are highly contaminated and should be a warning sign for us.

The United States should continue to lead the direction of implementing sustainable living in our major cities to begin with.  In a future post, I will show how a small town has done this by being influenced by a major politician (past president).  As a nation, our residents should rise up and demand our politicians to implement (vote for) regulations which improve our environment not degrade it.  All U.S. residents deserve clean drinking water.  Remember, I wrote a post regarding writing your elected official?  Do not be afraid to join in and contribute by writing to your elected official to express concern about future decisions concerning our environment.

As far as regulations go on an international level, the United States keeps raising the bar for the rest of the world.  Going back is not good for us and certainly not good for the world.  All of us need to work together to achieve action that is moving in a forward direction.

Until next time, have a great day!

No comments:

Post a Comment