The dismantling of environmental protections that have guided the United States since Dec. 2, 1970, has begun in earnest.
Freshman Congressman Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), along with three co-sponsors, have introduced House Resolution (HR) 861, whose subtle purpose is right in the title: to terminate the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Most people know the EPA as the department that oversees the Clean Power Plan (CPP), President Barack Obama’s attempt to lower carbon emissions by 2020, but the effects of the CPP on solar development were likely to be minimal, as Nathan Serota, a senior analyst at Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) covering the U.S. solar industry, told pv magazine last fall. But that doesn’t mean the EPA plays no role in solar.
Although the Department of Energy is the federal department most often associated with solar, the EPA does play vital partnership roles in programs like the National Community Solar Partnership, Solar Powering America (an online resource for consumers on the solar industry), and creating and hosting the National Maps by Solar Photovoltaics (PV) and Concentrated Solar Power Potential, to name a few.
The 34-year-old Gaetz, who took office on Jan. 3, has no press release on the bill on his sparse website, but he posted a link on his Facebook page to a story with a local Florida newspaper where he explained his views. The text introducing the link states, “To better protect the environment we should abolish the EPA and downstream resources to states for more effective and efficient protection.”
“They have exceeded their original mission substantially under both Republican and Democratic presidents and violated the sovereignty of the states,” Gaetz told the paper. “I think we need to start fresh.”
As yet, Gaetz has offered no specifics on what kind of department he envisions replacing the EPA. Language of the bill hasn’t been posted, and a note on Congress’ website on the bill’s page reads:
As of 02/07/2017 text has not been received for H.R.861 – To terminate the Environmental Protection Agency. Bills are generally sent to the Library of Congress from GPO, the Government Publishing Office, a day or two after they are introduced on the floor of the House or Senate. Delays can occur when there are a large number of bills to prepare or when a very large bill has to be printed.
Co-sponsors of HR 861 include Barry Loudermilk (R-Ga.), who also wants to gut the Clean Air Act; Thomas Massie (R-Ky.), who believes the EPA is destroying jobs in his district through its regulations; and Steven Palazzo (R-Miss.), who voted against allowing the EPA to regulate greenhouse gases.
In reaction to increasing concerns by the general public over the effects that human behavior were having on the environment, Congress passed the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, which created the department that would become the EPA. President Richard Nixon signed the bill into law on Jan. 1, 1970. Eleven months later, the agency was born.