Brace yourselves. A full-out war on the environment is percolating and we must prepare for the battles we will fight during the next four years, and beyond.
Two weeks ago, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R – UT) introduced a bill that would sell off 3.3 million acres of public lands in 10 western states because those lands served “no purpose for taxpayers.” Chaffetz withdrew the bill after facing a major backlash from constituents, outdoor groups and conservation organizations
Last week, Congress voted to repeal the Stream Protection Rule and Obama’s rule on methane emissions.
On Friday, Representative Matt Gaetz (R- FL) introduced a bill to abolish the EPA by the end of 2018 and has garnered support from a trio Republicans who are co-sponsoring the bill: Thomas Massie (R – KY), Steven Palazzo (R – MS) and Barry Loudermilk (R – GA).
The bill has no text, but the logic behind the legislation once again has to do with overregulation and overreach of the federal government. Gaetz is hoping for a smooth transition of oversight and regulations from the federal government to individual states.
In an email obtained by The Huffington Post, Gaetz wrote, “Our small businesses cannot afford to cover the costs associated with compliance, too often leading to closed doors and unemployed Americans. It is time to take back our legislative power from the EPA and abolish it permanently.”
Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush tried to roll back many of the EPA’s rules and were often challenged by the courts and expert environmental litigators. That’s because EPA regulations cannot be easily rescinded. Rescinding rules is a lengthy process that involves a period of public comment and litigation that starts at the lower courts that can take years to get to the Supreme Court.
Terminating the EPA would violate many laws that are tied to the agency enforcing them and is not the most feasible, or legal, option for the Trump administration. He would need the approval of Congress to do so.
However, what we will continue to see is a hostility towards environmental issues. Gaetz’s bill may never be signed into law, but a Republican majority Congress can do everything in its power to defund the EPA.
Trump can pull out of the 2015 Paris Agreement and not defend the Clean Power Plan in court. Scott Pruitt may cut staffing levels and close regional offices to weaken the agency.
Their goal is to reduce the effectiveness of the agency through any possible legal means.
But, this isn’t new for environmental advocates. We will fight this in court and in our communities.
Local level politics is where a lot of action is taking place. Part of the fight is getting a seat on city council to make environmental issues a political priority.
We must continue to push forward strong environmental policy agendas in our cities. States can continue to make incremental progress through zero-emission vehicle mandates, brownfield redevelopment programs, green building codes, smart energy grids, renewable energy and LEED buildings and mass transit.
This is only the third week of the Trump presidency and fatigue is setting in. As environmental advocates, know that this is going to be a long-fought battle and we will get bruised along the way. But know that we’re doing this to protect regulations and policies that keep us safe and the earth habitable.
Call your representatives and senators, show up to demonstrations, support good science journalism and donate to organizations that are working to protect the planet. We need you to keep fighting back.
Environmental advocate. Communications professional. Sports fan. I love television and press conferences.