Gutting the EPA

What is the U.S government doing to stop air pollution?

Gutting the EPA

Postby Wilberforce » Sun Jun 07, 2015 6:04 pm

Editorial: Gutting the EPA

Published: Sunday, June 7, 2015 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, June 6, 2015 at 12:17 a.m.

It was ironic that Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker chose a Florida forum to argue that states would do a better job protecting the environment than the federal government.

Walker was among a half-dozen Republican presidential candidates who attended Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s economic summit last week in Orlando. At the event, Walker called for major parts of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s funding and responsibilities to be sent to the states.

“Every state has an equivalent of the EPA,” he said. “Every state that has it, not that they’re all perfect, but they’re much more effective, much more efficient and certainly much more accountable at the state and local level than they are in Washington.”

Walker wouldn’t have needed to walk far to find examples of just how bad a state can be at protecting the environment.

Under Scott, Florida has slashed funding for environmental protection, water management and land conservation. Longtime employees of regulatory agencies have been forced out. Public lands have been slated for private uses.

Water resources, such as our region’s springs, have become more polluted and depleted. Yet, Scott has fought greater limits on pollution, such as the EPA’s new rule restoring Clean Water Act safeguards to wetlands and streams.

Climate change provides the best example of the differences between Florida and the federal government when it comes to the environment.

As The Associated Press reported last month, Florida is already dealing with the effects of climate change such as sea-level rise. Coastal cities such as historic St. Augustine are seeing more frequent flooding that is only going to get worse.

But the AP found that the state lacks a clear plan or coordination on the issue. Scott wouldn’t address whether the state has a long-range plan when the AP asked him about it. State employees have been banned from even using the term climate change under Scott.

Florida also has failed to take steps to cut the carbon emissions that contribute to climate change. State lawmakers have rolled back emissions limits and refused to fix laws that impede the expanded use of solar power.

In the absence of state action, the EPA has developed regulations to cut carbon emissions from power plants and other sources. The rules gives states the power to develop their own plans to reduce emissions, but Florida has so far sat on its hands.

Walker picked the wrong place to argue that states do a better job on the environment. Not only is environmental protection imperfect in our state, our political leadership has vacillated between indifference and outright hostility on the issue.

Gutting the EPA would only make our state and its natural resources more vulnerable.

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