July 6, 2017; Dallas Morning News
Each that day passes makes it more apparent that the new administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency has priorities that run counter to the EPA’s mission “to protect human health and the environment.”
Scott Pruitt, the former Oklahoma attorney general, has undone more than 30 environmental rules in less than five months. Officials in the very industries those rules affect provide policy advice to Pruitt, as do former lobbyists and political appointees. EPA specialists are seemingly devalued; 47 members of the EPA’s Board of Scientific Counselors, a respected corps of experts, have been dismissed.
The agency doesn’t seem to have a policy agenda in place. Pruitt has reversed a ban on a pesticide that is dangerous to children, counter to the EPA’s own findings. He has delayed enforcing a rule to prevent chemical spills and explosions at plants and seeks to undo the authority of the Clean Water Act.
The Clean Power Plan, put in place during the Obama administration, contains climate change regulations. In order to dismantle these rules, Pruitt has filed a proposal of intent. The EPA is also taking a shot at the biofuel percentage in gasoline and diesel, with the approval of petroleum companies but with consternation from agriculture concerns, particularly corn farmers.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed total volume marked a slight decline from current levels and was more than 20 percent below targets laid out in a 2007 law. The U.S. Renewable Fuel Standard, or RFS, requires increased volumes of renewable fuels each year, but the proposal would keep targets for use of conventional biofuels at current levels.
There should be discussions on costs of compliance for environmental regulations, balanced with the health and safety of the people. These discussions should be ongoing as technology improves and science reveals alternatives. Complete dismissal of proven regulations is not the answer.—Marian Conway