Though the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is under attack from majority Republicans in Congress and a number of powerful industries nationwide, you would never know it, as the agency continues to try to reduce pollutants that endanger our health.
Critics have sought to portray the agency as having a political agenda, even plotting to destroy American businesses, when a sober observation of the agencys activities shows only an entity committed to fulfilling the requirements set out for it in the Clear Air Act passed by Congress in 1970 and enacted by Republican President Richard Nixon, amended in 1990 and signed by Republican President George H.W. Bush.
What has made the agency so reviled? In January, the EPA proposed stricter health standards for smog, also known as ground-level ozone. Smog forms when emissions from factories, power plants, landfills and automobiles react in the sun. Recently, the agency proposed rules that would for the first time limit emissions of mercury, arsenic and other pollutants from coal-fired power plants.
The Clean Air Act mandates that the EPA set national air-quality standards for ozone, particulate matter, nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide and lead and for this, it is under attack, because these standards will cost money to the polluters to buy equipment to help clean up their emissions.
Keep in mind, however, that these orders were given to the EPA to carry out in 1970 and updated in 1990, so that industries have had at least 20 years to prepare for this. Meanwhile, the pollutants have contributed to untold numbers of serious health problems, from respiratory illness to birth defects, developmental problems in children and increased risk of premature death in those with heart or lung disease. The chronic illnesses have helped drive up the cost of health care.
The nations largest cities and industrial areas, including oil and gas fields, in recent years have been found to have unhealthy levels of air pollution.
As organizations including the respected American Lung Association will attest, the EPA, if anything, is saving lives.