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A syndicated eco-advice column
Written by Patricia Dines

"Encouraging the eco-hero in everyone!"

"Making it easy to be green!"

This Month's Column:
Standing Up for the EPA

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Standing Up for the EPA

By Patricia Dines
Published in the Sonoma County Gazette
January 2012
(c) Patricia Dines, 2012. All rights reserved.

Dear EcoGirl: Some presidential candidates have said that, if elected, they'd abolish the EPA. Do you think that's a good idea? Signed, Concerned Voter

Dear Concerned Voter: Thank you for your question. Well, generally I don't comment on candidates during an election, because I want my eco-information to serve folks with a wide range of beliefs. However, I will comment on the environmental aspect of your question, because I want to encourage our support of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as a unique and crucial ally for protecting our health and well-being.

My quick answer is that the arguments for eliminating the EPA just don't hold water. Despite attractive cover stories, this is just another coordinated attack on environmental regulations that would allow polluters to continue their harmful activities.

It's as if outlaws terrorizing our town sponsored an ad campaign claiming that the real solution to crime was eliminating the position of sheriff and all relevant laws. Smart folks would see that this wasn't a logical objective argument to serve the community.

However, today's eco-attacks come cloaked in superficially appealing arguments that push emotional hot buttons such as "jobs" and "freedom." So let's improve the discussion by looking below the surface.

Key Points to Remember

1) The EPA has significantly improved our health, survival, and financial well-being. As just one example, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) says that, between 1970 and 1990, the Clean Air Act prevented 205,000 premature deaths, 21,000 cases of heart disease, and 843,000 asthma attacks. Between 1992 and 2002, it saved Americans between $121 to $193 billion, while costing just $23 to $27 billion, thus offering a stunning financial return of 500 to 700%.

2) We need the EPA to continue working on today's eco-crises. While the agency isn't perfect, no other entity can play its role of acting for our shared well being, including setting and enforcing national standards for air and water quality, pesticide use, fuel economy, wilderness and endangered species protection, nuclear practices, waste management, water and energy efficiency, and more.

3) A large majority of Americans support the EPA's protection efforts, according to a recent bipartisan survey by the American Lung Association, and even want them increased.

4) The EPA's centralized coordination is more efficient and effective than fragmented rules. It's a key reason the agency was created.

5) Without the EPA, our environment, health, and quality of life would significantly decline. When the EPA was formed, the public was outraged over rivers catching fire, pesticides killing birds, and stunning smog levels. Do we really want to go back there?

Clarifying Misinformation

Contrary to the assertions of EPA detractors:

1) The EPA does not inherently compromise freedom. But polluters do, when their toxics trespass into our bodies and take away our right not to be poisoned. Thus, the EPA is protecting our freedom by setting limits on this harm. (See www.commondreams.org/view/2011/12/20-5.)

2) The U.S. is not over-regulated. Studies have demonstrated businesses' ease with our regulations. Plus we're more attractive because of the quality of life our regulations produce. (See www.huffingtonpost.com/steven-strauss/actually-despite-gop-clai_b_1118792.html.)

3) Eco-regulations do not kill jobs. Studies show that they're job neutral.

4) The proposed option of individual lawsuits can't replace the EPA's functions. It would require people and courts to spend enormous time and money replicating the EPA's research, standard setting, and enforcement. Businesses would have to navigate a patchwork of conflicting cases. Plus many issues would be unaddressed, such as cumulative harm from multiple sources. This would all waste everyone's resources and produce significantly worse results.

True Solutions

1) Let's stand in support of the EPA, and strengthen it. For ideas, see my column at www.patriciadines.info/EcoGirl2h.html

2) Let's reclaim government as us not them. We created it to act for our shared interests and resolve conflicts fairly. Let's improve it, not start from scratch.

3) Let's get corporate money out of politics. It's overwhelming voters' voices and fairness. See www.storyofstuff.org/movies-all/story-of-citizens-united-v-fec.

For more on this topic, see www.patriciadines.info/EcoGirl5e.html. [That's this page. See more information below!]

• • •

Ask EcoGirl is written by Patricia Dines, Author of The Organic Guides, and Editor and Lead Writer for The Next STEP newsletter. Email your questions about going green to <EcoGirl [at] AskEcoGirl.info> for possible inclusion in future columns. View past columns at <www.AskEcoGirl.info>.

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"EcoGirl: Encouraging the eco-hero in everyone."

© Copyright Patricia Dines, 2012. All rights reserved.



The statistic from NRDC comes from www.nrdc.org/air/cleanairact


Attacks on the EPA based on lies can seem true just because they're on TV and repeated often. This article shines a light on the key assertions and gives the facts that proves them untrue. We need to hold our media accountable for being factual, and protect ourselves from misinformation by knowing the facts. Otherwise, we get foolish policy that harms our well-being instead of helping it.
"Fox News' War On The EPA," www.mediamatters.org/research/201110130004


These same kind of arguments were used to de-regulate the financial industry -- and we're all suffering the harmful result of that today! Smart regulations are key to keeping games fair and protecting the little guy. Otherwise, the thieves and bullies rule the day. That's why we created these rules of play over the rules. I'm open to talking about making regulations smarter, but to just get rid of them is NOT in our self-interest.
For more on this, see for example www.marketoracle.co.uk/article8210.html and www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-weissman/deregulation-and-the-fina_b_82639.html


To see what a lack of eco-regulations looks like today, consider China's horrifying environmental crises caused by its insufficient eco-regulation. See www.chinahush.com/2009/10/21/amazing-pictures-pollution-in-china. Also see my description of China's eco-suffering at www.patriciadines.info/GZ123108.html. This is the cost they pay for our cheap goods from China.

>> Let's not join the race to the bottom, where governments allow increasing pollution to attract business, a few elites profit and the rest of us suffer. Instead, let's join the race for the best quality of life. That starts with healthy ecosystems, a stable climate, and rewards for companies that respect their neighbors and communities.


There are so many examples of American industries clinging to toxic polluting ways and losing entire marketplaces and our leadership position to eco-innovators in other countries.

* For one example, see "Exposed: The Toxic Chemistry of Everyday Products and What's at Stake for American Power," www.healthyworld.org/GRAPHICS/STEP/stepvol8no1.pdf.

* On the other hand, businesses can find great opportunity in offering earth-wise solutions. The NRDC says that, "The environmental technology industry -- spurred by environmental regulations and particularly the Clean Air Act -- created 1.3 million total jobs between 1977 and 1991. Exports of environmental and pollution control technologies grew by 130% between 1993 and 2003, and were valued at $30 billion in 2004." www.nrdc.org/air/cleanairact


This article describes a current EPA action that offers high financial and health benefits. Just the financial benefits alone are expected to be many times more than the costs. Not to mention people's lives saved and diseases avoided, allowing them to live more joyfully and give their unique gifts while they're here.

"New Limits on Power Plant Toxic Emissions," www.healthyworld.org/GRAPHICS/STEP/stepvol12no1.pdf


Taking care of the earth is taking care of ourselves. Money cannot replace what the earth offers us, and to destroy her functioning for pieces of paper is folly.

* For instance, one study concluded that the world's ecosystems conservatively provide services worth about $33 trillion a year, exceeding the global GNP then of $25 trillion.
"Putting a Value on Nature's "Free" Services" www.worldwatch.org/node/447

* Also, Jared Diamond's in his book Collapse analyzed past civilizations and found that a key reason for collapse was unaddressed environmental problems. www.wikipedia.org/wiki/Collapse:_How_Societies_Choose_to_Fail_or_Succeed

* You might want to read my columns, "Can We Afford to Care About the Environment?" www.patriciadines.info/EcoGirl1j.html and "Earth-friendly Economics: Remodeling our economic system to better harmonize with the planet" www.patriciadines.info/GZ111908.html.


As I said, I seek to be nonpartisan regarding candidates. However, I am concerned that today's Republicans have become so hostile to environmental protection. It wasn't always that way. Even just a few years ago, Republican candidates could talk about eco-protection.

So I was excited to find out about this group that eco-concerned Republicans might wish to support and tell others about. Also please tell your candidates and leaders that environmental protection and the EPA are vital to you and a key factor that you use in choosing candidates. They need to hear it from their audience!

* GROUP: Republicans for Environmental Protection. Its mission is: To resurrect the GOP's great conservation tradition and to restore natural resource conservation and sound environmental protection as fundamental elements of the Republican Party's vision for America. Its slogan, "Conservation is Conservative," and argues that conservation and responsible environmental stewardship are core conservative values that necessarily extend from concepts such as prudence, personal responsibility, thrift and Edmund Burke's view that society is a partnership among past, present and future generations. This group reminds us of Republican leaders who've previously championed the environment's best interests, and sees both a healthy environment and a sound economy as essential to our nation's prosperity. We don't have to choose! www.rep.org


* To understand how money disconnected from real wealth is allowing us to adamantly destroy the ecological foundation of our very survival, see "Breaking the Spell of Money." www.orionmagazine.org/index.php/articles/article/6343.

* I also highly recommend David Korten's book, Agenda for a New Economy: From Phantom Wealth to Real Wealth. www.livingeconomiesforum.org/agenda2

* Our current economic woes make it increasingly urgent that we shift to more earth-honoring ways, because our economy depends on functioning ecosystems. But how can we take care of the earth when everyone's budgets are so challenged? In this column, I explore tangible ways that we all can nurture our economy's transition to wiser ways. "Greening Our Money" www.patriciadines.info/EcoGirl1k.html


* "Profitable Green" (NorthBay biz magazine, February 2011). "Is it still possible for businesses to be both profitable and green?" In this article, I talk with local business leaders to find out how green is weathering today's economic storms. Includes examples. www.patriciadines.info/a_NBbProfitableGreen11.html

''Only when the last tree has died,
And the last river been poisoned,
And the last fish been caught,
Will we realize that we cannot eat money.''
Cree proverb


I'm delighted to offer you my Ask EcoGirl booklets, "Healthier Housecleaning" and "Detoxing Your Life." These unique, handy, and cheerful resources bring together key information you need to create a healthier home for your family and the planet. They make a great gift, and quantity discounts and wholesale prices are available. Plus all sales support my eco-healing community work. Tell a friend! Find out more at www.askecogirl.info/booklets.html.

I hope that you find this information useful. I welcome your throughts and feedback!

You can email me at ecogirl [at] askecogirl.info! You can also ask to be on my email article alerts list or connect via Facebook at www.facebook.com/AskEcoGirl.

For more information on this and related eco-topics, see my other Ask EcoGirl columns.

For more about my writing in general, on eco-issues and more, see my What's News page.

This entire website is (c) Patricia Dines, 1998-2012. All rights reserved.
Page last updated 1/1/2012