On February 3, Florida Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz introduced a bill titled “To Terminate the Environmental Protection Agency” (EPA).
This is a sign of how a majority-Republican House of Representatives now emboldened by a fiercely anti-environmental Donald Trump presidency is acting rapidly to dismantle as much environmental regulation as possible. The bill is co-sponsored by three other Republican representatives: Rep. Massie Thomas of Kentucky, Rep. Steven Palazzo of Mississippi and Rep. Barry Loudermilk of Georgia.
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Ironically, the bill to abolish the EPA is part of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee’s plan to “Make the EPA Great Again.”
A hearing on the bill took place today, February 7, and the witnesses included Kimberly White, a senior director of chemical products and technology with the American Chemistry Council, as well as Jeffrey Holmstead.
Holmstead is a lobbyist representing energy companies, and in 2001, was appointed as the assistant administrator of the EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation, where he played a key role in the George W. Bush administration’s efforts to dramatically scale back clean air and climate change protections.
He is infamous for saying, “The benefits of reducing mercury are very insignificant.”
The House Science, Space and Technology Committee is well known for being vehemently anti-science, and is led by Republican Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas, who led the charge to intimidate environmental groups who had called for Exxon to be investigated for its climate fraud. The committee recently tweeted an article from Breitbart that insinuated doubt about the science behind climate disruption.
According to The Intercept, the aim of the “Make the EPA Great Again” hearing was to essentially prevent the EPA from using the best scientific studies available for its policy making, as well as disallow the use of studies from single events, like the BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, because the bill will eliminate the use of studies that cannot be repeated.
For example, the bill would include reversing the EPA’s decision to eliminate all agricultural uses of pesticides that include chlorpyrifos, which deleteriously impact children.
The bill is just one part of an effort by both the Republican Congress and the Trump administration to neuter, if not abolish, the EPA and any other government agency that holds sway over regulating polluters.
With oil-and-gas-errand-boy Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt soon to be — almost assuredly — sworn in as head of the embattled EPA, it is clear that the EPA will soon be gutted from within.
“The point here will be, more than in any prior administration, to reduce the agency’s effectiveness so much that it can’t recover even when the political winds change,” David Doniger, a former EPA lawyer who now works for the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), told the New York Times, discussing Pruitt’s goals.
Meanwhile, Representative Gaetz’ bill aims to eliminate the agency entirely.
Representative Gaetz has received massive amounts of funding from the oil and gas industry, and has also introduced bills like the “Mobilizing Against Sanctuary Cities Act,” the “Criminal Alien Deportation Enforcement Act of 2017,” the “Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017,” the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act of 2017” and the “Disapproving of President Obama and his administration’s refusal to veto the anti-Israel resolution adopted by the United Nations Security Council on December 23, 2016.”