By Scott Portman
The month of April has brought forth plenty of discussion over federal and state budgets. As President Obama handed down a resolution just last week, some aspects will likely continue to spark controversy. One aspect of the resolution, the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget, will likely see more discussion from GOP representatives and big business owners in the near future.
The GOP has been on the tail of the EPA throughout the early part of 2011, pushing forth a budget proposal that explored a 30 percent cut to the agency. When the resolution that came through last week from President Obama was finalized, only a 16 percent cut to the EPA’s budget was called for; just over half of what republican reps wanted.
Expect further push back from the GOP.
Apart from budgetary issues, Republicans have set out to reduce the scope of the Clean Air Act, put an end to the cap and trade tax, and soften greenhouse gas emission regulations from the EPA. The Energy Tax Prevention Act was presented by Republican senators James Inhofe, Fred Upton, and Ed Whitfield. This act was originally drafted to combat the Clean Air Act and address the cap and trade agenda as well, but it’s likely to get voted down.
So although the Republican attempt to reduce both the EPA budget and the power and reach of the Clean Air Act have been somewhat unsuccessful, look for the GOP Reps to ramp up their game plan concerning EPA matters. A strategy in which Republicans point out the positive aspects of the EPA and how the agency is employing some negative initiatives could be crucial. The EPA has so many positive and successful campaigns, yet they seem focused on defending those that are having little impact. The EPA could more profitably invest more of their resources towards initiatives to improve public health, instead of wasting them on projects that have little direct impact on the people of the United States.
For example, the EPA works every year to cut down on cases of mesothelioma, asthma, respiratory issues, and other health problems through programs like water monitoring and asbestos abatement. Their work in water monitoring, including the Safe Water Drinking Act, allows the agency to directly oversee local water authorities and public water sources. Thus, the EPA is able to impact decreases in water contamination and associated health problems. The EPA's work in asbestos removal takes place in thousands of older buildings and schools all over the US. They are able to remove the material toxin that is causing dangerous problems, and in some cases life threatening risks, due to the drastically short mesothelioma life expectancy. Either way, these two initiatives represent just a portion of some of the more promising efforts of the EPA that are being lost in their battle with the GOP and business owners, primarily because of their attention and devotion to defending less important costly initiatives.
Given the fact that the GOP has continued to fight the EPA through the latter half of 2010 and all of 2011, expect their fight on the EPA’s power and costly regulations to continue. From here on out, their strategy is likely to be different. Their inability to cut the budget cut as much as they would like and their ineffectiveness pushing their bills through congress strongly suggests a need to change their plan of attack. An exposure of the EPA’s inability to defend and support the right initiatives could help the GOP to lessen the environmental agency’s constraint on business.
Scott Portman is a health, safety, and political advocate with a passion for economics and an interest in national fiscal responsibility. He is an aspiring journalist who currently resides in the North East United States. Under our current administration, he believes budgets have become lopsidedly oriented in favor of trendy "green" environmental politics