Any reasonable person would tell you that the environment is an important thing that needs to be protected. Pollution is bad. Most reasonable people would agree that there should be some mechanism by which large polluters are held accountable for their actions. In this way, most reasonable people don’t think twice about letting that mechanism be implemented by the national Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). What I’m going to argue is that the EPA is the wrong mechanism. Let’s get started!
So when I say “mechanism” what do I mean? The mechanism is the process that we use to define what is and is not harmful to the environment and the way that we encourage people to treat the environment with care. The mechanism that the EPA uses are called regulations. Regulations are rules made to force manufacturers to adhere to certain standards in order to keep our air clean and to curb climate change. If they break the rules they have to pay a fine. In order to obey the rules they have to pay to upgrade their systems. How much does it cost businesses in America each year to keep up with the regulations? Well depending on who you ask anywhere from the hundreds of billions to multiple trillions of dollars each year. The claim from the EPA is that more money is saved with the benefits of better air quality, etc. has on our health than it costs to comply with the regulations. I have a problem believing that claim when it is impossible to count the people who don’t get sick, but for the sake of argument let’s just assume that it’s true. We should still get rid of the EPA.
My biggest problem with the EPA is that it is redundant. We have 50 states, each with their own version of the EPA. Each with their own standards and regulations. Some of these standards are more stringent then the federal standards and some are not. I firmly believe that in every area of life that the closer you are to a problem, the better you are at solving that problem. Since each state already has these mechanisms in place, they are the best ones to solve the environmental problems in their state. I think most people think that if the federal government isn’t doing something that it must not be getting done. That’s simply not true. If we get rid of the EPA, or the Department of Education, or whatever, it does not mean that we won’t be protecting the environment or that our kids won’t have public school, far from it and possibly the opposite in fact. Those things would become better.
The other problem I have with the regulations imposed by the EPA is the toll it takes on people, especially the poor. Millions of jobs and entire industries have been lost due to overbearing regulations. The vast majority of our electricity comes from fossil fuels. The costs of complying with these regulations drives up utility bills which disproportionally harms the poor who have less income to spend on those things. These regulations make your groceries more expensive, your car, your cloths, almost everything in fact. Luckily we live in America, so bankrupting the coal industry, or making their product cost prohibitive only kills a few thousand a year here. When they do this stuff in Africa millions die. What is most maddening about articles like the one linked to in the previous sentence is that these places have the natural resources, but since they aren’t deemed “clean enough” they can’t use them, so millions die while these rich countries search for billions of dollars that go towards solving a problem of CO2 that literally cannot be solved even with 100% reduction in CO2 emissions. The basic premise of these types of articles is that a few rich white people need to solve the problem and if a few million dark people die, well, it’s for the greater good so who cares. Well, I care.
So what would America look like if the federal government just outright got rid of the EPA tomorrow? The only thing that would change is that more jobs, better paying jobs would be available, your stuff would get cheaper and your state would be the only one regulating the environmental standards. That’s it. There would still be an agency protecting the air you breathe and the water you drink. A state agency that is more directly accountable to you, the citizen voter. There would also be billions of more dollars available to entrepreneurs to open factories that make things here in the US. When you don’t have to spend millions of dollars wading through the hundreds of thousands of regulations, you tend to use that money to make more money which includes making things to sell. Which includes hiring people to make and sell your things. See how that works?
Just on a side note. I consider myself to be a skeptic. I implore you to also be more skeptical in your life. When someone makes a claim, don’t just take it as fact because they belong to the same political party as you do. Make them prove it. If they can’t prove it, don’t believe it. That includes me. Check to see if the state you live in has an environmental protection agency of their own. If they do, ask yourself why that is, since we also have a federal one. Then ask yourself why we have a federal one if we already have a state one. Try to answer each question fully and decide which should stay and which should go. If you think both are necessary convince me why that is. Once you pass this hurdle, move on to another federal agency that is also being handled by your state, if you are honest, you may start to decipher a pattern.