According to reports, President Donald Trump is planning on signing another executive order that requires the Environmental Protection Agency to review water regulations put in place by Barack Obama. His reason? He wants to make sure they’re not hurting the economy.
The order addresses a rule called the “Waters of the United States”, which was created under the Clean Water Act. The Act was part of sweeping amendments back in the ’70s when we realized that we probably shouldn’t be dumping all of our crap into the water. In a nutshell, it gives the federal government power over about 60 percent of major bodies of water, rivers, streams and wetlands. In a perfect world, the federal government would make sure businesses don’t shit all over them, but hey, no one’s perfect… especially when money is involved.
Donald isn’t too shy about showing his disdain for the Environmental Protection Agency. Shit, the guy he hired to be in charge of it, Scott Pruitt, has sued it more than a dozen times. At CPAC 2017, Pruitt recently made a few things clear: he’s going to hack the EPA up. The Clean Energy Plan and the Clean Water Rule are likely to be severely hobbled by funding cuts, and he said in a roundabout way that the budget and staff would face massive cuts.
Some people don’t like the EPA because they make polluting harder, and polluting is part and parcel with our fat, greasy way of life. It makes sense from their point of view: if you’re a broccoli farmer (or whatever), you need to use fertilizer. Let’s say a drainage ditch runs alongside your property, so it’s inevitable that some of that fertilizer is going to end up in the drainage ditch, then a stream, and eventually, a lake or the ocean. All of a sudden, some giant government entity comes along, looks at your little drainage ditch and tells you that you’re no longer allowed to let any of your fertilizer into that ditch. All of your broccoli dies and your family starves to death. All because of the EPA! The nerve of those bastards!
Of course, that’s on a very small and simplified scale–change the broccoli farmer into a massive oil company (hello, Rex Tillerson!), change that little bit of fertilizer into a million other awful things, and change that drainage ditch into a tailings pond so poisonous it’s got to be netted because if a bird so much as looks it, it dies.
Here’s the issue, though: yes, some of those EPA regulations the Obama administration probably DID harm the economy. Millions of jobs, after all, would be much more profitable if they didn’t have anyone to hold them accountable for anything. Most of us can understand the need (especially in a society like ours) for regulations that are beneficial for both companies and the planet they’re sitting on. And while the economy is pretty damn important, so is the planet. Gutting the EPA and giving the reins to a man who denies what the rest of the world is telling him (read: climate change) is a little one-sided.
The executive order (which, as of publication, could still technically be changed), requires the EPA to look carefully at the old regulations and make sure they’re promoting economic growth… which isn’t what the EPA is there to do. But like I said, no one’s perfect… especially when money is involved.