Photo from The Huffington Post]
[The following is a guest post by Nick Scott.]
The recent budget cuts have provided plenty of debate about a number of different issues. While the debate has involved programs geared to help the poor and elderly, much of it has focused on the Environmental Protection Agency and EPA regulations.
The federal budget compromise a few weeks back may have kept the government afloat, but it damaged some governmental agencies, including the EPA, by significantly cutting their budgets.
In the case of the EPA, $1.6 billion or about 16 percent of its 2010 budget was slashed! As 2010 drew to a close and through the first months of 2011 Congressional Republicans have worked hard to destroy the ability of the EPA to do its job of protecting our environment.
Specifically, GOP representatives have been highly critical of the Clean Air Act and the EPA's sanction to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. These Republicans base their criticism on the notion that the EPA is exerting too much power and thereby has a negative effect on revenue, gas prices and employment growth.
The Republicans are blowing smoke. Not only do EPA officials strongly deny such charges, they call them inaccurate and misleading. In fact, EPA administrator, Lisa Jackson, responded by saying "The standards that we set to protect our health are so often and so inaccurately blamed for increasing prices and economic challenges."
Because the Reublicans have had some success in their mission to gut the EPA by slicing the EPA's budget, it's likely they will explore further cuts into the 2012 year. Because the 16 percent cuts have little effect on the regulations they claim are "causing a loss of revenue" the GOP will likely carry on their criticism of the EPA until their goal is reached.
Unfortunately, if they are successful, the health of the American people is put at risk! If the EPA is subjected to additional budgetary cuts it will be unable to do its job which will certainly lead to dangerous repercussions in the future. Human ailments related to environmental toxins, for example, are likely to increase dramatically!
Increased health problems caused by dismantling the Clean Air Act are also likely to occur. If our corporate polluters are given the green light in terms of emitting greenhouse gases, that will impact not only global warming but air pollution will grow exponentially throughout the United States. Childhood asthma is already a huge and growing problem, and many of our cities are inimical to health because of dangerous levels of toxins in the air. To allow corporations the privilege of blowing their deadly smoke into the air is monumentally stupid and respiratory problems are likely to skyrocket!
The EPA is also very much involved in dealing with health problems related to asbestos removal. By so doing, the EPA has helped to reduce the rate of mesothelioma cases in this country. The EPA works on an ongoing basis to clear older buildings and structures of asbestos! This effort has produced tremendous benefits for our citizens. Because the disease is so deadly (mesothelioma life expectancy is usually only eight to 14 months) asbestos removal becomes a major factor in reducing the number of cases. And asbestos removal is just one example of the many programs in the EPA portfolio aimed at cutting the number of environmentally-related health problems. To further slice the EPA's budget is simply irresponsible and foolhardy and puts the American people in jeopardy.
Looking to the future and considering the Republican penchant to destroy the EPA by cutting its budget to the bone, we have a serious problem. The continuing, unwarranted attacks by Congressional Republicans and business leaders on the EPA and the work of the EPA are taking a toll. Because the EPA is vital to the well-being of our nation and our people, we need to fight back against these attacks by creating greater awareness among our citizens as to the role the EPA plays with regard to our national well-being. We also need to vote out those representatives who would destroy the EPA to increase corporate profits; those who care little for the health and welfare of the people of the United States!