Every new year promises a fresh start, and that includes the landscape for the environmental agenda.
Yet, before looking forward, it must be noted that the first session of the 113th Congress was dismal. Rep. Henry Waxman addressed the situation in his report analyzing the anti-environmental voting record of House Republicans.
His summary outlined that House Republicans had led initiatives to vote for anti-environmental positions 109 times. This overlapped with the 51 votes cast to benefit the gas and oil industries — to the detriment of public health. Examples from the report included:
- House Republicans voting to weaken the Clean Air Act (CAA), while blocking efforts to improve America’s air quality a total of 20 times.
- House Republicans voting to obstruct federal efforts to curb carbon pollution and prevent the dire effects of climate change. This included a resolution to prevent the EPA from considering the damage caused by carbon pollution and climate change in agency rulemaking.
- House Republicans voting 27 times to cut the funding for clean energy and energy efficiency, while simultaneously dragging their feet on carrying out policies to cut energy use and switch to cleaner energy.
So with this record in the rear view mirror, will the EPA make any traction on their upcoming regulatory agenda?
The EPA regulatory agenda puts forth an “overview” of their goals, while referencing their forty-year mission of “working to protect people’s health and the environment.” They underscore that “science, law, and transparency” will be the foundation for their actions.
For 2014, the general summary points to the necessity of dealing squarely with climate change; the urgency of improving air quality; being proactive on chemical safety and toxins; employing a plan to fully engage communities that have been underserved due to a lack of environmental justice.
The following are key points in the EPA plan to work toward a “sustainable” future:
- Under the umbrella of the Clean Air Act, pushing forward to put into play “greenhouse gas standards.” This covers both stationary and mobile sources.
- Getting regulations for power plant “greenhouse gas emissions” into place. Finalizing previously proposed standards for “new electric power plants.” Outlining standards for greenhouse emissions from “existing and modified power plant sources.”
- Bringing compliance to the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS)—in all areas of the country.
- Achieve a final ruling on Tier 3 Vehicle and Fuel Standards, which will reduce air toxins, including particulate matter and NOx.
- Taking on a review of the Maximum Achievable Control Technology (MACT) program. The EPA should be putting forth new rules that will re-examine the current MACT standards overseeing Petroleum Refineries, to ensure that the standards being followed implement the most up to date technology.
- The EPA has been studying the impact of fracking on drinking water by analyzing the five individual phases of the process. The study is scheduled to be released in 2014. In December of 2012, a progress report was made public, introducing the areas that have been studied. Appendix A addressed the chemicals that have been “identified in fracking fluids and fracking waste water.”
- Covering a wide spectrum of concerns regarding toxins and chemical safety (from cosmetics and home products to formaldehyde in composite wood products), the EPA will continue to identify, examine and assess regulations to protect Americans.
- The EPA will make a concerted effort through an Environmental Justice strategy to focus on communities that have been overlooked, via their Environment Justice program. They will also move forward on the Native American Affairs Council, which was created by President Obama via an Executive Order in 2013.
Based on the track record of House of Representatives, it’s going to take a lot of determination to ensure that the efforts of the EPA aren’t stymied. This is why it is so important Moms Clean Air Force members make their voices heard and tell officials where they stand! Start this week by signing up for a Virtual Town Hall event with EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy on January 8th (Wednesday). READ about it HERE. SIGN UP to ASK QUESTIONS and win prizes HERE. Thank you!