By Chris Leavenworth
I’m not sure what Congressman Matt Gaetz is thinking or if he truly believes humans have no impact on global warming—a new excuse proposed by deniers who can no longer handle the overwhelming amount of evidence on climate change, and yet is still rejected by over 90 percent of the world’s climate science community.
He was quoted in the Panama City News Herald: “There is no denying the planet is warming, but more needs to be done to determine whether it’s a natural cycle of warming and cooling or if humans are irreversibly harming the planet.”
Despite indisputable evidence from manmade production of greenhouse gases and carbon footprints from burning coal, oil and gas, Gaetz is willing to bet against “irreversibly harming the planet” and has drafted a bill proposing to abolish the Environmental Protection Agency.
The proposed bill is intended to leave it up to each individual state to decide whether or not they’d like to enforce regulations on businesses that directly affect the environment. In other words, big businesses will only need to appeal to state politicians to strip away environmental policies that protect drinking water, limit air pollution, and keep mining companies from dumping coal debris into natural streams.
Gaetz makes the argument that the EPA has done a poor job protecting the environment and that the whole program must be completely scrapped. I’ll agree that recently the EPA hasn’t been terribly effective—look at the Colonial Pipeline that spilled over 250,000 gallons of oil in Alabama last year. Or the 176,000 gallons that leaked out of Belle Fourche in North Dakota in December. Closer to home was the BP oil spill, when 200 million gallons of crude oil was leaked into the Gulf of Mexico after an explosion that killed 17 people in 2010. The water in Flint, Michigan is still toxic. The list goes on.
Although the EPA isn’t perfect, it doesn’t logically follow that a 40-year program aimed at preserving and conserving the beauty and clean air of the U.S. should be shut down. Every developed country has nationwide environmental policies. Why wouldn’t we?
This is not about protecting small businesses drowning in regulations and red tape as he claims. If it was, he’d be focusing on shifting the burden of compliance to the bigger companies that actually do have a negative impact on the environment. He points to something that’s broken, and instead of identifying the real problem and proposing a real solution, he distracts the public by crying, “See, it doesn’t work! Let’s burn the whole house down.” And people believe him.
The reason the U.S. continues to be one of the world’s major sources of environmental damage is due largely to special interest from the same uncompromising industries it was designed to regulate. Matt Gaetz knows this.
The EPA definitely needs reform. The sensible approach would appeal to the need for environmental protection on state, federal and global levels. Energy and manufacturing industries in the U.S. need to be held to cleaner, safer and more conservative standards, and should be willing to evolve their model with the smallest footprint possible.
Individuals should consume less and be much more conscientious of their environment, which might just lead to a more intelligent and compassionate society.