A new article from science and technology website The Verge argues that we need the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) because before it came into existence “rivers caught fire and bald eagles were poisoned.”
The article is in response to possible EPA budget cuts and a bill that is being circulated in Congress that would abolish the EPA as early as next year.
Alessandra Potenza paints a stark picture of what the America could look like if there were once again no government agency dedicated to watching over the environment.
“Children play in front of a smelter pumping lead and arsenic residue in the air of Ruston, Washington; a woman holds a glass of black, undrinkable water from her well in Ohio; and the view from the George Washington Bridge in Manhattan is so hazy with smog that the New Jersey skyline is impossible to see,” Potenza begins. “These scenes were captured in the early 1970s as part of a project, called Documerica, that was commissioned by the Environmental Protection Agency to document pollution in the US.”
— Sierra Club (@SierraClub) March 5, 2017
Potenza says that the images still serve as an important reminder of what would happen if the EPA were dismantled.
Potenza then quickly turns her sites on the new head of the EPA and his prior relations with energy companies, as well as President Donald Trump’s possible plans to cut the agency’s funding and a bill that could entirely abolish it.
“The new EPA leader, Scott Pruitt, has made a career out of suing the agency for its environmental regulations, working hand in hand with the fossil fuel industry,” Potenza writes. “President Donald Trump is expected to drastically cut the EPA’s budget and workforce, as well as roll back many of the regulations that empower the agency. And a bill meant to terminate the EPA by December 2018 was recently introduced in the House by three Republican congressmen.”
Potenza argues that while the founding of the EPA may seem like a distant memory to many — indeed millions of Americans now living had not yet been born when it came into existence — those who were born prior to the formation of the EPA still remember what life was like before, and they do not remember it fondly according to Potenza. In fact, a strong majority of Americans very much want the EPA to stick around and stay strong, based on a poll she cites.
When corporations cut corners we pay the price!
— RoseAnn DeMoro (@RoseAnnDeMoro) March 5, 2017
“[M]ost ordinary people haven’t forgotten life before the EPA — and the majority of them don’t want these cuts to the agency,” Potenza says, adding, “More than 60 percent of Americans want to see the EPA’s powers preserved or strengthened under Trump, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released last month. And it’s not just liberals, either — almost half of Republicans wanted the EPA to continue in its mission as well.”
The Reuters/Ipsos poll says a meager 19 percent of Americans want the EPA “weakened or eliminated.”
“There’s tremendous public support for clean air and clean water, and the basic mission of the agency is tremendously popular,” Paul Sabin, an environmental historian at Yale University, told The Verge. “People are counting on the government to provide those protections.”
That support won’t account for much if the EPA’s budget is cut or if the bill to abolish it is passed. Bills often die in committee, though, and it could also be voted down during the full vote if it does make it through committee.
[Featured Image by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images]