Reclaw the EPA

For 30 years the Environmental Protection Agency was the little tiger that could – taking on major polluters – remove poisons from our water and ensure safe, breathable air. But recent moves by the Bush administration have effectively declawed the EPA.

Interest groups have always attacked the EPA, which has suffered blows from those more concerned with short-term profits than the long-term benefits of a healthy environment. In the past month, the EPA’s credibility and viability have taken severe hits. Battle-worn EPA director Christine Todd Whitman was replaced by Michael Leavitt, whose pro-business record in Utah has been criticized by environmental groups.

In the realm of policy, the EPA ceded powers to regulate greenhouse gases to Congress, effectively killing hope for addressing the concern. These decisions came on the heels of the announcement that the EPA is lowering standards for enforcing the Clean Air Act on outdated energy facilities that need to upgrade their equipment.

Just yesterday, the EPA relaxed sales of contaminated land to the glee of polluters. In addition to being the driving force behind these shortsighted actions, the Bush administration even ordered the EPA not to issue health warnings concerning the toxic dust clouds rising from ground zero. Coupled with constant censoring of any mention of climate change in EPA statements, the Bush administration has effectively silenced the EPA on certain issues.

Congress established the EPA as an independent agency to objectively research and address issues concerning the environment and its impact on citizens. Americans have fought for their quality of life and the environment which enables it, but their struggles would have been fruitless if not for the EPA providing the grit behind decisions supporting a sustainable lifestyle. The Bush administration has subjected the EPA to business executives who seek to undermine policy and the administration has underfunded and understaffed the agency.

The legitimacy of the EPA is in danger, but more importantly, so is the health of all Americans. It’s time for President George W. Bush to set aside politics and for the future benefit of Americans, put the environmental claws back into the EPA.