EPA: Stop House Bill 861

by Tom Teune

The Environmental Protection Agency is under attack. Whether it is House Republican efforts to eliminate the EPA altogether, or the Trump administration’s proposal to cripple it with massive budget cuts, for America not to have a national enforcer of clean water, air and soil standards would be a gross injustice and a monstrous danger to the health and wellbeing of every American citizen.

The immediate result of the loss or weakening of the EPA will be the deterioration of clean air and water in all 50 states.  Pressure from powerful chemical, oil & gas and other industrial firms on state legislatures will inevitably result in loosening regulations on these companies to clean up their waste streams.  The cost of maintaining — or regaining– clean air, water and soil will be passed from industry to the public. And it’s already happening.

States which fight the deterioration of their environments will be on the defensive, battling pollution from neighboring states and unable to attract and maintain industrial employers,  because even environmentally responsible companies will be forced to move to states with a lower cost of doing business, or face bankruptcy. This type of economic chaos and inter-state competition is what the constitution’s Commerce Clause was written to prevent.  Should states with stricter environmental standards be allowed to charge tariffs on goods produced in states which do not impose such standards on their industries?

The elimination of the EPA is not a question of state sovereignty as Congressman Gaetz, the sponsor of the legislation, asserts. This argument, taken to its logical extreme, leads inexorably to the dissolution of the United States.  The silliness of the ideological discussion of who is sovereign needs to end.  We are either nation united, or a bunch of loosely confederated entities.  Where do states’ rights end?  Maybe each should have their own currency, because if controlling pollution is not a national concern then most of Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution is null and void.  

I am reminded of Alexander Hamilton’s writing in the Federalist paper number 62, section 14 where he says, “…every nation whose affairs betray a lack of wisdom and stability may expect every possible loss to the more systematic policy of their wiser neighbors.   She is ridiculed by her enemies.  And she is prey to every nation that has an interest in speculating on her fluctuating councils and embarrassed affairs.”  Today, America needs to heed the council of Alexander Hamilton more than any other time since the Civil War between the states.

The EPA can be rigid in its enforcement of environmental laws, but it’s role is vitally important in seeing that equal and fair regulations are enforced uniformly throughout the United States of America.  Stop House bill H.R. 861 and protest the Trump administration’s cuts to the Environmental protection Agency.

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