30 Nov 2017 Recap of the Changing EPA
Updates to our country’s environmental rules and the EPA have been making headlines all year. But what’s really going on with these changes and the proposed federal budget for 2018? We’re taking a look at 2017 to stay informed and up-to-date.
Key Changes to the EPA in 2017
As of October 2017, more than 50 environmental rules have been overturned, rolled back, or been put in limbo. These issues range from wildlife protection and building efficiency standards, to offshore drilling and oil rig safety. And about one-third of these rule changes can be directly linked to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The EPA was established in 1970. Two of the most important laws that do govern the agency are the Clean Air Act of 1970 and the Clean Water Act of 1972. Both of those laws passed with popular bipartisan support, yet many of the environmental policies today don’t have the same level of support. Some of the changes we have seen in just the first half of the year include:
Stream Protection Rule
February 2017: President Trump signed a joint resolution passed by Congress to revoke the “Stream Protection Rule,” which restricted dumping mining waste into waterways.
Offshore Oil and Gas Drilling
April 2017: President Trump issued an executive order to repeal the ban on offshore drilling along parts of the Atlantic coast and much of the Arctic ocean around Alaska.
President Trump’s 2018 Budget
May 2017: President Trump sent his proposed budget, “A New Foundation for American Greatness,” to Congress. The budget would cut the EPA resources by 31 percent, and eliminate the EPA’s lead-risk reduction and radon detection programs.
Other items are also on the chopping block for 2018 (for a full list, visit this page). If the proposed federal budget is passed, we may be looking at another two dozen rollbacks. These rules cover everything from emissions standards to groundwater protections and the possible repeal and replacement of the Clean Power Plan.
Water Safety and the Clean Power Plan
On March 28, 2017, President Trump issued an executive order calling for a review of the Clean Power Plan. The order directed Trump’s EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt to review the policy for regulations that “may place unnecessary, costly burdens on coal-fired electric utilities, coal miners, and oil and gas producers.” The EPA then proposed to repeal the Clean Power Plan in October 2017. So, what does this mean—and why would it have anything to do with water?
The Clean Power Plan was first unveiled back in 2015 to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. The process was designed to take many years, so the policies wouldn’t be fully implemented until 2030. Along the way, in theory, we’d be saving water in the regions that need it most.
Power plants across the United States are responsible for about 45 percent of our total water withdrawals. This is bad news for water-stressed areas. Coal power plants can use up 20,000 to 50,000 gallons of water per megawatt hour. Yet switching to renewable energy sources, like wind or solar power, can help keep that water available for our homes and other business needs. Those types of energy sources require hardly any water to run.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that we’re big fans of water conservation at Indy Soft Water. We love helping families get the cleanest water possible at their tap, but that’s only possible if we have reliable water sources. Naturally, keeping our groundwater and drinking water safe is at the forefront of our mission.
The State of the EPA Budget
The U.S. federal budget of comes to a total of $4 trillion. Would cutting support for the EPA really make that much difference for cost savings? The proposed 2018 budget would take away roughly one third of the EPA funding—rolling it back from $8.1 billion to $5.7 billion. But compare that to the rest of the federal budget. In 2016, the funds dedicated to the EPA only made up 0.2% of the that total budget.
The cuts would be a dramatic cut for the department itself. But ultimately, it’s just a drop in the bucket compared to the rest of the federal spending. According to National Geographic, the proposed EPA Cuts would only be enough to “fund the U.S. Department of Defense for just over 30 hours.” Are these cutbacks really worth the risk?
If you’d like your voice to be heard, consider pledging your support to one of the many petitions created on www.change.org. The topics cover a variety of issues, and can be a great way to make a stand. In the meantime, we’ll keep doing what we can to provide you with the best water possible.
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