As promised in the most recent post about Scott Pruitt, this post is about some of the functions and benefits of the oft-maligned Environmental Protection Agency of the United States.
The agency was created when President Richard Nixon issued an executive order in December of 1970 to create the EPA; the House and Senate later ratified the order.
EPA's mission is straightforward, though far-reaching: "To protect human health and the environment." [Note that human health comes first!] EPA creates regulations to satisfy the laws passed by Congress. The most well-known of the laws include the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act. Few Americans would argue that these acts, and the enforcement of them, have not benefited Americans and American ecosystems.
EPA writes and enforces regulations, conducts research, educates the public, and creates programs to ensure that "all Americans are protected from significant risks to human health and the environment where they live, learn and work." Who's not for that?! Well, some businesses and Conservatives and Libertarians come to mind. Scott Pruitt has worked to "reign in" the overreach of this executive agency, agreeing with many Conservatives that environmental protection should be left to the states. President Trump has said, "Environmental protections, what they do is a disgrace. Every week they come out with new regulations.
However, EPA has been quite successful since its inception to help reduce emissions of harmful/toxic emissions, even as our population has exploded and consumption has grown exponentially. For example, the table below shows that we are far better off today in terms of the amount of "criteria pollutants" in our atmosphere. Lead can affect essentially every organ in the human body; carbon monoxide is toxic to hemoglobic animals, including humans, and has a part in creating ground-level ozone; nitrogen dioxide is a respiratory irritant, and it also leads to ground-level ozone; particulate matter is also a respiratory irritant and can lead to blood clots; and sulfur dioxide, which is emitted when fossil fuels are burned, can lead to acid rain (very damaging to ecosystems) and causes lung irritation. These are harmful chemicals, and EPA has helped to keep them out of our air and out of our ecosystems.
2:00 p.m. As I write this, Scott Pruitt has been confirmed by the U.S. Senate to lead the EPA. We are entering into a rough period for the environment AND for human health! It is time to hit the streets (or soon will be).