The Suffolk Journal

Regulations are meant to be improved, not erased

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The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was created with a simple and singular goal: to protect human health and the environment.

The EPA’s reach extends to the public and private sector, as they are intended to remain unbiased in that pursuit of health. This pursuit has been poisoned by the inclusion of an open member of the chemical industry into a new position at the EPA, and humans’ health will see a decline because of it.

Dr. Nancy Beck worked for five years as an executive at the American Chemistry Council, the primary trade institution for American chemical companies. Her position came to an end this year, after being appointed in May to one of the key regulatory positions of the EPA where the decision is made on which chemicals will be considered too risky for the public.

If this does not seem like a clear and almost blatant conflict of interest, it is hard to identify what the definition of conflict must be for President Donald Trump and his cabinet. The mission as set out by her new department is to, “protect you, your family and the environment from potential risks from pesticides and toxic chemicals.”

In her time in the new position, Beck has already slashed more than a dozen regulations on various chemicals that had been previously deemed unsafe, making these chemicals much more difficult to regulate despite their proven negative effects.

Some of these chemicals include, perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) that has been linked to birth defects, immune system disorders, kidney cancer, and was once used in non-stick pans, food packaging, stain-resistant carpeting and a number of industrial processes. These findings were the result of a large study completed more than two years ago of several peer-reviewed studies concerning the chemical.

President Donald Trump’s pick for Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, has shown how reliant a government agency like the EPA is on having administrators who are working in tandem with the goal of the agency. Instead of continuing the long history of ensuring a betterment of the environment and human health, Pruitt has taken measures to retract steps forward in the battle to lessen the emissions of carbon.

With his withdrawal from the Clean Power Plan (CPP), Pruitt stated that he believed this plan was not meant to reduce carbon emissions, but rather it was a plan that the Obama administration was using, “to pick winners and losers and how we generate electricity in this country.” Pruitt’s opinion comes in spite of the EPA’s estimation that the CPP could have prevented 2,700 to 6,600 premature deaths and 140,000 to 150,000 asthma attacks in children.

This new movement of rolling back safety measures put forward by a government agency created solely to ensure public health is so far removed from the best interest of American citizens that it is almost malicious.

The issue of an EPA that is acting against its own ideals creates a difficulty to imagine dichotomy. An agency that was endowed with legislative strength in order to defend the health of people and the environment is being used for third parties to profit at the expense of those citizens it was created to protect.

Government agencies cannot be allowed to turn their back on citizens just so that private companies can have more room for profit in the future.

The damage that this kind of administration could cause is catastrophic, as it takes much more time to put legislation in place than it does to tear it down.

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Regulations are meant to be improved, not erased