Georgia rep sponsors bill to shut down EPA

Kayakers in the Animas River was affected by the Gold King Mine spill near Durango, Colorado, Aug. 6, 2015. Georgia Rep. Barry Loudermilk references the spill to why, “the EPA is no longer effective in protecting and preserving our environment,” and should be removed. Photo by Jerry McBride | The Durango Herald

Georgia representative Barry Loudermilk (R-GA-11) is one of four co-sponsors of a bill to terminate the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The Republican representative said he supports the elimination of the EPA in order to give smaller agencies the ability to develop environmental policies and state governments more power to enforce them.

If passed, H.R. 861 would close the EPA on Dec. 31, 2018.

The bill was introduced in the House of Representatives on Feb. 2 by Florida representative Matt Gaetz. Rep. Thomas Massie from Kentucky and Rep. Steven Palazzo from Mississippi are also cosponsors of the legislation.

In a press release issued after co-signing the bill, Loudermilk referred to himself as an “outdoor enthusiast dedicated to preserving our environment and natural resources”, and said the EPA is ineffective in doing so.

“The EPA is no longer effective in protecting and preserving our environment,” Loudermilk said in the statement. “You don’t have to look far to find examples of the EPA’s bureaucratic overreach being counter-productive to good environmental protection.”

Loudermilk referenced a 2015 mine waste spill accidentally triggered by the EPA at the Gold King Mine in Colorado. Following the incident, which turned the Animas River yellow with contamination, the EPA took responsibility for the spill and added the site to its priority list of locations for nationwide cleanups.

“The EPA has become an overgrown and unaccountable bureaucracy wrought with fraud and waste,” Loudermilk said. “I believe it is time to restructure government with smaller agencies who work with states to develop national environmental policy that is enforced by state governments.”

Lawrence Kiage, Georgia State Associate Professor of Geosciences, said that he thinks the bill is unlikely to pass, but added that there are other ways to derail the EPA’s plans and policies.

“I don’t see that happening,” Kiage said. “They [The administration] will limit the EPA’s effect during this time. They can starve it of funding and put people in the leadership who are climate change deniers. That’s another way because they may not remove it.”

Global climate changes, Kiage said are “not going to be realized uniformly”, but instead occur gradually. He said low-lying island environments, extremely cold and tropical regions are most vulnerable and many currently experience severe climate changes. As for climate changes in the U.S., Kiage said they are occurring, but not enough attention is being brought to them now and the changes will continue worsening.

“People say ‘if there is climate change, why is there snow?’” Kiage said. “But climate change is not that there will be no snow, but how much snow there is and when that snow comes.”

He said that doing away with the EPA could negatively affect how prepared we are for more drastic changes.

“There is climate change, and there’s a whole lot we don’t know until we are affected by it,” Kiage said. “It’s not whether climate change is going to happen, it will happen. The question is how prepared are we to deal with those kinds of scenarios.”

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