Morgantown Dominion Post Editorial — EPA vs Earth

by Duane Nichols on April 23, 2018

National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) are for harmful pollutants

“EPA vs. the Earth — Pruitt driving agency over environmental, ethical cliff”

>>> Editorial of Morgantown Dominion Post, Earth Day, 2018

Oddly, the largest secular holiday in the world this year happens today — on a Sunday. It is estimated that more than a billion people will celebrate Earth Day in more than 190 countries. Unlike many of our holidays this is not just an American concept of a celebration that can be traced to elsewhere!

The first Earth Day on April 22, 1970, is embedded in events on America’s campuses, public schools and its communities. More than 20 million people celebrated and peacefully demonstrated then in favor of environmental reform. By that year’s end — Dec. 2, 1970 — the Environmental Protection Agency was created by an executive order of President Nixon. Its initial mission was to administer the Clean Air Act (also enacted in 1970), to reduce air pollution and enforce other landmark environmental legislation to come.

By the mid-1990s the EPA was enforcing 12 major statutes, including laws applied to ocean dumping, safe drinking water and asbestos hazards. This federal agency’s accomplishments are historic and have literally changed the world. For example, EPA enforcement was primarily responsible for a decline of up to one-half of most air-pollution emissions in the U.S. from 1970 to 1990.

Space does not allow us to list the EPA’s achievements, including significant improvements in water quality and waste disposal or agreements with automakers to install catalytic converters in cars.

Though vilification of the EPA predates the Trump administration, the EPA now prioritizes the very industries it’s supposed to regulate over the environment it’s sworn to defend. As mission statements go, the EPA’s is unequivocal: “Our mission is to protect human health and the environment.” We note that just so anyone today who had any doubts can rest assured.

But the truth is, the EPA’s administrator, Scott Pruitt, since taking office has driven this agency over an environmental and ethical cliff. He has halted guidelines to curb oil and gas facilities’ emissions. He has set his sights on regulations that protect wetlands ands streams. And he proposes to undo efforts to generate electricity by cleaner methods. This month, Pruitt also announced plans to scuttle requirements for cars and trucks to become more fuel efficient by 2025.

On the ethical front he spends millions on a 20-man around-the-clock security detail, first-class flights and a $43,000 soundproof phone booth. Yet, today we are more upset about the ongoing initiatives to not just relax, but to vacate environmental protections. Make no mistake these protections not only go the core of the EPA’s mission. They go to the core of planet Earth’s very existence.

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