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Saturday, May 27, 2017

Why Do We Need the EPA?


Since the 1970s we’ve learned to harness new carbon-free forms of energy to power American homes and factories. We learned what greenhouse gases are and we’ve learned the role those greenhouse gases play in affecting our health, our climate, and our communities. These advances all have one thing in common: the Environmental Protection Agency.

Recently the current administration has proposed deep cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency’s regulatory ability, funding, and has even removed scientists from advising the EPA. And now, a Congressman has proposed a new bill to completely abolish it altogether.

Citing the need to cut down on “unnecessary” regulation and encourage economic growth, those in power are preaching the idea that the EPA is unnecessary, restrictive, and bad for Americans. But the EPA is far from unnecessary; in fact, it is a vital player in keeping our country strong and healthy.

So, why do we need the Environmental Protection Agency?

In an ideal world, we wouldn’t. In that ideal world, we also probably wouldn’t need companies like CleanChoice Energy, because all energy companies would be clean, climate change wouldn’t be an issue, and everyone would recognize the importance of protecting communal treasures like clean air, clean water, and healthy children.

But since we don’t live in that world, we need allies like the EPA to help protect all of us—our families, our national resources, and our ability to turn on the water and trust that it is safe to drink.

President Nixon created the EPA in 1970, with broad bipartisan support, in response to growing public concern about pollution and its effects on health, air quality, water quality, and quality of life. Since the EPA’s founding, America’s land, air, and water have been cleaned up dramatically. Air pollution of dangerous and harmful chemicals was brought under control, waterways and sources are dramatically cleaner, and as a result people are healthier. Fewer children fight and die from lead and other toxins, fewer people struggle with asthma, and environmental sources of cancer and other disease are systemically regulated and decreased.

One sweeping example of the efficacy and necessity of the EPA can be seen in the history of Steubenville, Ohio. Once home to the world’s worst air pollution, Steubenville played a key role in the EPA’s decision to tighten mercury and fine particulate pollution limits on coal plants. Once upon a time, Steubenville was situated between two plants that turned coal into furnace-ready coke for industrial mills nearby, causing a whole host of health problems for residents including increased mortality rates. Since the EPA stepped in to help in 1974, soot concentrations declined 24 percent and mortality rates dropped 19 percent.  

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Mary Workman holds a jar of undrinkable water that came from her well in Steubenville, OH in 1973. Due to water contamination from nearby coal plants, she had to transport water from a well many miles away. Picture taken: 10/1973 by Erik Calonius

From 1970 to 2015, national emissions of pollutants like lead, carbon monoxide, and nitrogen dioxide (all pollutants released by fossil fuel plants) decreased by 70 percent on average. This means on average 230,000 premature deaths will have been prevented by 2030. The EPA also has a great return on investment. According to a recent study, the “benefits estimate exceeds costs by a factor of more than 30 to one, and the high benefits estimate exceeds costs by 90 times. Even the low benefits estimate exceeds costs by about three to one.”

The EPA was created with the goal of protecting human health by protecting the environment we rely on to live. It protects vulnerable people, children, communities, ecosystems, and species. The EPA is needed now more than ever. From lead-tainted water in Flint, Michigan, to crude oil spills decimating wetlands in Ohio, and recent Dakota Access Pipeline oil spill-- there are many current examples to underscore the importance of a strong regulatory body working to protect public health and safety.

Protecting the EPA, and ensuring it is able to do its job effectively, is important to securing a bright future for all of us. No matter the fate of the EPA, by choosing CleanChoice Energy, you send an important message that clean energy and healthy communities are American values we should all enjoy.

Tell us why you support clean energy on Facebook or Twitter, by tagging us @CleanChoice and using #MyCleanChoice

 












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