Republicans really have it out for the government agency tasked with protecting the United States’ natural resources. Late last week Florida representative Matt Gaetz – along with Republican pals from Kentucky, Mississippi, and Georgia – introduced HR 861, a bill designed to abolish the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Republicans apparently view Donald Trump’s presidency as a grand opportunity to scrap the EPA. HR 861’s full text isn’t available online yet, but the Courier-Journal reports it would enable states to take over environmental regulations and oversight from the federal government. It’s unclear how this transition would occur.
Experts lambasted the extreme bill, saying it would incite chaos. In theory it may sound nice for states to control environmental protection, but University of Florida law professor Mary Jane Angelo noted the amount of money available to states varies wildly across America. Some citizens’ health would therefore be better protected than others, depending on a state’s wealth. She said the EPA already works with states and local governments on many environmental issues through cooperative federalism. States are also granted some flexibility on how to execute a law in ways that make sense for them. If the EPA disappeared, “decisions would have to be made on hundreds of programs.”
The bill has been skewered as a flashy move that ultimately wouldn’t help constituents, absurd especially from a representative whose state faces the consequences of sea level rise maybe even in the next 10 years. Portions of southern Florida, such as Miami, could be underwater by 2025, according to some predictions.
Another law professor at the university, Alyson Flournoy, said the bill “seems to be part of a wave from elected officials designed to capture headlines but not do good government.” She said, “We don’t need less government or more government. We need good government.”