The EPA was set up in 1970 with a mandate to protect public health Our health. Our children’s health. Things were not so different in America at that time—an unpopular war, a recession-ridden economy—but we knew then that we have to protect the environment in order to protect our own health. Back then we had rivers catching on fire, today it’s a global climate disaster. After 40 years we still need the EPA to ensure that the financial desires of greedy industry leaders don’t trump our needs as people. The government is supposed to work for the best interests of its citizens. It’s the very reason why lawmakers in a democracy have a job to begin with.
These needs have not changed, but many members of Congress seem to think that we don’t matter and don’t care anymore. They want to pass a continuing resolution that would cut $3 BILLION from EPA funding, eliminate its top positions, and block its ability to require that wealthy companies reduce carbon pollution. With no one to run the EPA, no money to run it with, and few tools to do anything, the EPA would barely be more than a ceremonial body.
With no one to protect Americans from dirty industries, they will continue to profit by taking unnecessary health, financial, and emotional risks. Asthma. Cancer. Tuberculosis. Infant mortality. . . .
So why would the government take such incredibly high risks? The answer is simple: this is Koch’s Congress. The Koch Brothers, Big Oil, and Big Coal are filling our politician’s pockets with dirty campaign money that results in dirty energy policies like the proposal to cripple the EPA. They say they’re slashing the budget to save money and jobs, but how does that explain the $500,000,000,000 (yes, half a trillion) that Americans have to pay for coal-related problems, or the one million jobs that Americans stand to lose as a result of these cuts?
It’s time to step up and remind lawmakers who really put them in office. It’s time to remind them that we’re still here, we’re still calling the shots, and we’re still demanding they ensure a healthy economy AND environment for us and for our children.
[Philip D. Radford is the Executive Director of Greenpeace US.]