We Need the EPA


We all know the GOP stance on the EPA: The institution is killing American jobs, the American economy, and the American dream.

Republican candidates like Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry continue to bash the EPA while Jon Huntsman remains the only moderate to give it any credence. In the GOP debate at the Reagan Library, Bachmann argued global warming is a hoax. Huntsman, on the other hand, tweeted that he believes in evolution and man-made global warming. But moderation is the exception rather than the rule. The Republicans utilize constant bombardment to accomplish their goals, and this is beginning to severely affect President Barack Obama’s environmental plans.

Obama is crumbling under Republican demands, failing to push forward with his legislation to protect the planet. On September 2, Obama announced that he would not accept the EPA’s new air pollution rule. The regulation would have greatly decreased emissions by cutting the ozone standard of pollutants from 75 parts per billion to between 60 and 70 ppb. He conceded the regulations would be a burden in an unstable economy, forcing industries to set new emissions standards. The government worries that the cost to industries will force lay-offs.

Obama has not gained any support from the right from this concession; instead, he has alienated the left. Environmentalists feel betrayed and rightfully so. Obama gave into the GOP and compromised our planet in the process.

The EPA cannot stand to be pushed aside anymore. As I mentioned in my last PolicyMic article, the EPA helps the environment. Perry claims that some “group of scientists” arguing that humans create global warming doesn’t make the EPA necessary. He hasn’t seen the proof. Well, ignorance doesn’t help support the claim that our world is in fine condition.

Scientists proved man-made destruction of the earth a few years ago when the ozone layer became so depleted that a hole appeared. Once we realized that we were the problem, we passed the Montreal Protocol, one of the few successful environmental acts. After countries reduced the concentration of CFCs in the atmosphere, the hole started to close.

Why can’t the government pass the same type of legislation to respond to global warming? Perhaps because so many Perryites believe humans have no part in the planet’s destruction.

Contradicting such notions is the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) which states that greenhouse gases (GHGs) cause climate change. From 1970 to 2004, GHG emissions have increased by more than 20% and that doesn’t take into account the amount released today. The IPCC notes that the largest growth has come from “energy support, transport and industry” — these are all man-made issues! “Human activities” produce GHGs and “global atmospheric concentrations of CO2, CH4, and N20 have increased markedly.” Agriculture and fossil fuels have powered the growth. The rise in concentration affects the energy balance, causing climate change.

Yes, the report uses the term “very likely” instead of definitive adjectives. Such uncertainties may be the cause of people’s distrust. However, false certainty can be more dangerous than ambiguity. Believing the planet is fine will only worsen the issue until the damage becomes unconquerable. People want to evade distress by blaming climate change on natural forces. In tough economic times — or any time for that matter — people don’t want to accept that major changes need to be made. Yet, refusing to acknowledge a problem will not erase it. 

Nonetheless, many accept the problem but do not want to fix it, arguing that “going green” costs exuberant amounts of money. This is false. Industries expected to lose $7.5 billion and thousands of jobs when the EPA first created the Clean Air Act. In reality, the project cost about $1 billion and created jobs. The initial output may seem too great, but the long-term benefits outweigh the costs. Efficiency accomplishes goals such as lowering energy costs, thus saving jobs. Additionally, a safer planet saves lives. Without pollution, less people would have asthma attacks, lowering medical costs. The advantages are endless, but we cannot wait to take action.

Obama cannot switch sides on this issue. He must push it forward without hesitation. We are running out of time. The earth cannot be sacrificed — especially for political quarrels.

Photo Credit: Mikael Miettinen