By Dale Bryson
The White House recently released their deregulation agenda for all federal agencies. In this piece, I’m focusing on their plans to continue their aggressive rolling back of environmental regulations. They listed sixty-three regulations they want to significantly roll back and/or totally eliminate. These are regulations that have been on the books under several past administrations. While some are minor, there are many that will be very devastating to our environment.
Here are a couple of examples.
1. They want to gut the rule that protects America’s rivers, called the “Waters of the U.S Rule.” This would eliminate protection of over two million miles of rivers, which would mean that anybody could discharge anything into those rivers unabated. Included in that rollback is eliminating protection of over three million acres of wetlands. Wetlands are crucial to replenishing ground water and feeding water to rivers, along with being habitats for wildlife. The proposal would allow those wetlands to be destroyed forever.
2. One of the largest sources of air pollution is discharge from coal-fired power plants. These discharged chemicals, including carbon dioxide and sulphur dioxide are major contributors to not only to climate change, but also to soot in the air. The proposal will roll back most controls on power plants and eliminate the “Clean Power Plan” developed under the Obama Administration that gave power plants many years to control their pollution. This new proposal would eliminate those controls.
3. They want to reduce the air pollution standards on several other chemicals.
4. The problem of excessive lead in the Flint, Michigan, drinking water is well known to all of us. The administration is proposing to relax the limits on the amount of lead and copper in drinking water. Does that mean more Flint situations? Probably.
5. The proposal will significantly reduce the monitoring of drinking water quality cities are required to do for lead, copper, and fecal coliform. Without good monitoring, residents will not know if their drinking water is safe or not.
They (the White House) listed sixty-three regulations they want to significantly roll back and/or totally eliminate.
6. Oil and gas drilling are major sources of methane, which is another chemical that contributors to climate change. The roll back proposed would eliminate controls on methane.
7. The administration has eliminated the rule to protect streams and lakes in the coal mining regions. So now companies can literally fill in complete valleys with their waste coal mining rock, totally eliminating streams, lakes, and habitat.
8. The proposal will eliminate National Emission Standards for hazardous air pollutants in many industrial categories, resulting in more hazardous pollutants in our air.
9. The proposal also eliminates the regulation of certain pesticides used on food production.
10. Finally, it relaxes automobile and truck fuel efficiency standards.
Unless Congress says “no” to these insane actions, or the lawsuits by environmental groups and state agencies stop these crazy actions, our environment will seriously suffer and that concerns me greatly for us and our grandchildren!
Though retired now, Dale Bryson is a former senior manager of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. He was in charge of all water programs, including water pollution control, water protection, safe drinking water, and wetland protection.