News-Press

2017 March 1

Eliminating EPA could have dire consequences

John Cassani

http://www.news-press.com/story/opinion/2017/03/01/eliminating-epa-could-have-dire-consequences/98538840/

The anti-regulation rhetoric from President Trump and most of the GOP politicians in Congress is beginning to manifest with EPA currently in the crosshairs.

The thinking is that regulations cost jobs. But, is that the real reason as some have argued that some greenest states with the strictest environmental regulations have the lowest unemployment rates.

Consistent with this anti-regulation bandwagon, U.S. Representative Matt Gaetz, R-Florida, has introduced a bill in Congress that would abolish the EPA in 2018 and send that authority “downstream” to the states. Yet, Florida has and continues to struggle with the growing dilemma of declining water quality and is not making overall progress in reversing that trend.

In 2008, Florida had 1,000 miles of its rivers, 350,000 acres of lakes and 900 square miles of it’s vital estuaries impaired by nutrient pollution. Since then the extent of impairment of Florida’s waters due to some form of pollution has grown dramatically. The current list of “verified” impairments for one pollutant or another in a long list of Florida waters now totals 2,448. This list doesn’t even include insidious water pollutants like pharmaceuticals or algal toxins that have the potential to make you very sick as they are not currently regulated.

The latest DEP map illustrating the spatial scope of verified impaired water bodies or watersheds graphically and rather dramatically depicts the problem in Florida. An examination of this map indicates that no resident in Florida lives more than about 20 miles from a verified impairment. Your best chance of avoiding living near a verified impaired waterbody or watershed in Florida is to live in the middle of the Big Cypress National Preserve which is, of course prohibited.

Interestingly, Gaetz’s Congressional district in Florida has one of the highest concentrations of verified impaired water bodies in the state and may explain why he is so eager to abolish the EPA and roll back troubling regulations in the name of job creation, ironically aimed at protecting the health and well-being of the public at large. You have to wonder if reducing environmental regulations is really about jobs and less about satisfying political donors who are in the business of polluting.

Does anyone really believe a broad roll-back of environmental regulations is going to make a bad situation better? Perhaps easier for short term profits. However, recruiting jobs to a state where water pollution is growing dramatically and degrading property values in the process or threatening public health won’t be easy.  Or, where growth regulations are being ignored or rolled backed causing our roads, businesses and schools to decline.