Ohio EPA contemplates legislation to terminate national EPA

Kathy McGlone and Bonnie Bolen of Columbus hike through the Marietta unit of the Wayne National Forest during a hike and fireside chat organized by activists against fracking in the Wayne on Feb. 12. They stopped to look at a drilling rig owned by Steven’s Oil and Gas in the middle of the trail. (Photo by Patrick Connolly)

Three United States House of Representative members proposed new legislation Feb. 3 that would dissolve the Environmental Protection Agency.

The latest action taken by the House on H.R.861 was a reference to the House Science, Space and Technology committee for further consideration. If it is approved by the U.S. House, U.S. Senate and President Donald Trump, the law would terminate the federal EPA.

The mission of the EPA is to “protect human health and the environment,” according to the agency’s website . The agency enforces laws such as the Clean Air Act.

The EPA has offices in each state, and Ohio has five EPA district offices. Though the proposed legislation would not shut down state offices, local branches are unsure how a federal EPA shutdown will affect them, Heidi Griesmer, the deputy director for communications at the EPA office in Logan, said.

“We do work with the U.S. EPA,” she said. “We implement and issue permits that are under federal laws, like the Clean Water and the Clean Air acts.”

Trump has been battling the EPA from early on in his campaign. He has called global warming a “hoax” and said the EPA is a “disgrace.” Trump selected Scott Pruitt, a climate change “denialist,” as the head of the EPA in December, furthering his threat to dismantle the agency.

David Parkhill, the president of Ohio University College Republicans, said while he agrees with partially dissolving the EPA, he does not fully support terminating the agency.

“There are companies that will dump their waste in a creek near somebody’s house to save a buck,” he said. “Unfortunately, that’s one of the few flaws of capitalism. The EPA does do some good work where they’re protecting water and land.”

Parkhill, an avid proponent of coal mining, said the EPA hinders job growth, which is a reason to begin to take it apart.

“Right now, we are in $19 trillion debt and climbing,” he said. “It’s important we create jobs and we can export some of those fossil fuels. … The EPA does a whole lot to impede that.”

Although the EPA has been “weak and ineffective” in recent years, it does good work to restrict the fossil fuel industry, Caitlyn McDaniel, a 2015 OU alumna and Athens resident, said.

“This is evidence of just how deeply in the pocket of the fossil fuel industry our elected politicians are,” McDaniel said. “They have it in their best interests to deregulate environmental policies … now, we can see those companies are just going to rip out the EPA and make it that much easier for fossil fuel companies to come in.”



Originally published for The Post on Feb. 14, 2017.


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