My Public Response to the Executive Order to Dismantle EPA Regulations

From now through May 15, 2017, the public is invited to comment on the proposed dismantling of many Environmental Protection Agency regulations. I am strongly opposed to undoing the progress of decades, which has resulted in cleaner air and stricter regulations on toxic emissions. I submitted a comment, and other people in the US can too. (I’m not sure if comments from people from other countries “count,” but I will update this post if I find out.)

I also consulted the “altEPA” folks on Twitter about the ideal content of such a comment. They advised:

Tell a *long* personal story about your community environment and how all EPA rules sustain it. Clean air & water are easy picking.

Others mentioned using easy-to-find “before and after” photos of air quality and beaches (the site accepts media as well as text, although it is the text that becomes part of the public record, as I understand it).

Here is my submission. (I didn’t include the photos that are in this blog.) I urge others to comment as well.

Comment To Regulations.gov

I am 58 years old and suffer from lung problems directly resulting from poorly regulated crop-dusting in California in the 1960s and smog in the early 1970s before the Clean Air Act of 1970 had completely taken effect. The Clean Air Act and its amendments have been so successful that it is hard to remember how bad the air used to be in our major cities and industrial areas. Many people are too young to remember and I fervently hope that they never have to see dirty air in their lifetimes. The lasting damage to my lungs is medically controlled and is not worsening now that we have regulations on air quality.

Buffalo River, Arkansas

Industrial pollutants have also been reduced in our water but now we have the problem of plastics and their effect on the water ecosystem. I hope to see more done to address this problem, as it is having dire effects on ocean life in ways that are going to travel up the food chain to affect us all.

EPA regulations are in place to **protect** the American people. They do so in a way that cuts across class and region. I have never heard a private citizen complain about unnecessary burdens about keeping our air and water clean. I strongly disagree with the executive order’s claim that such regulations create “unnecessary regulatory burdens placed on the American people.”

Sierra Foothills, California

Clean air, water, and a wholesome environment that all can enjoy and feel safe in belong to all Americans.  These resources are part of the commons that all can enjoy and all should protect.

Union Creek, Oregon

As a private citizen, my ecological footprint is fairly small. I recycle. I try not to waste. I am careful about herbicides and pesticides. I treat my little patch of the earth well. I am proud that part of my tax money goes to protect the environment that all of us can enjoy. I want to pay my fair share.

Industrial companies use more resources. They are bigger potential sources of pollution. They should pay their fair share as well. Our air and water are not there to be used and “spent” by businesses. Businesses don’t have the right to take what belongs to all of us and thus externalize their costs, i.e., make the populace pay for their use of resources that belong to us all.

I am proud that there are some companies that have pledged not to take advantage if EPA regulations are loosened or abolished. Many companies can show the growth in jobs because of the regulations. Others point out the advantages to the regulations and claim that they are not burdensome. But obviously, the regulations need to stay in place because of those who will not take care of our environment without legislation.

Olompali State Historic Park, California

Over the years, as companies have complied with the regulations, scientists have discovered cleaner and more effective ways to use energy. These help the companies, the public, and the growth of scientific knowledge.

Olompali State Historic Park, California

These EPA regulations protect Americans. I am proud that they have been created. They have been put in place over the course of many years, with the best planning and analysis our scientists could offer. They have given immense benefits to our nation. To abolish them at this point—as we enjoy a cleaner planet but are also trying to slow climate change and make sure that our planet survives—is beyond ridiculous. We need them. Americans need them. People worldwide need them, since the ecological footprint of the United States is so large. Finally, the planet needs them. It needs the regulations that are in place—and more.

Little Rock, Arkansas

Copyright 2017 Eileen Anderson
All photos copyright Eileen Anderson