House Republicans just introduced a bill that would terminate the Environmental Protection Agency by the end of next year, full stop.
H.R. 861, which was introduced on February 3 by Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Florida) and cosponsored by Reps. Steven Palazzo (R-Mississippi), Thomas Massie (R-Kentucky), and Barry Loudermilk (R-Georgia) only contains one sentence: “The Environmental Protection Agency shall terminate on December 31, 2018.” The bill is currently awaiting action in the House Science, Space, and Technology committee.
The bill doesn’t specify what will happen to the wealth of knowledge and research produced by the EPA over the last several decades, or how the multitude of rules in place to safeguard land, air, and water from pollutants will be enforced, if at all. The legislation also doesn’t mention what will happen to the EPA’s $8 billion budget or 15,000-plus employees.
It isn’t hard to discern the motives of the bill’s author and cosponsors. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, two of the top 20 donors to Rep. Gaetz’s 2016 campaign committee were energy and utility companies (Smith Energy and Southern Company) who would stand to gain financially if the EPA were terminated. Rep. Palazzo received $14,700 last year from the oil & gas lobby, making them his 3rd largest contributor.
In addition to this assault on the EPA, President Donald Trump’s pick to lead the agency is Scott Pruitt, the Attorney General of Oklahoma who has sued the EPA on 14 separate occasions. Pruitt hasn’t made it clear whether or not he would recuse himself from any EPA rulings on the lawsuits he filed challenging environmental regulations if he is confirmed to the position.
Either way, the EPA is in a lot of trouble over the next four years.
Tom Cahill is a writer for US Uncut based in the Pacific Northwest. He specializes in coverage of political, economic, and environmental news. You can contact him via email at [email protected], or follow him on Facebook.