By Stephanie Lingenfelter
Editor in Chief
Most government agencies receive hate, but one that seems to be receiving more right now is the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). However, the EPA doesn’t deserve the hate that it’s receiving because it’s keeping us from completely destroying the planet we live on. President Donald Trump wants to cut the funding of the EPA, but then the EPA wouldn’t be able to keep helping our planet like they are now.
The EPA helped manufacture new aerosol cans that produce less toxins and new recycling regulations that help ensure we’re not putting holes in the ozone anymore. In the 80s, there was the huge hair trend. The issue with this was the popular hairspray used came in Aerosol cans that released chlorofluorocarbons, or CFCs for short. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), CFCs are what cause holes in the ozone. Ozone is O3, but the CFCs cause the O3 to break down to O2, or just regular oxygen. While oxygen is good for us, it’s not effective at protecting us from the sun’s harmful rays.
Businesses like to cut corners when it comes to being environmentally friendly. One of those ways is unsafe waste dumping, so the EPA has created acts to prevent and regulate this. In the 60s and 70s, people in Love Canal, New York lived with a strange smell coming from a school on 99th Street, according to billmoyers.com. At the school, dogs burned their noses and children’s shoes melted to the pavement all because the school was built on a toxic waste dump. The Love Canal, the canal the city was named after, was actually where Hooker Chemical Company dumped toxic waste for 30 years, totalling in 22,000 tons of waste. In 1955, the company sold the property to the school for just one dollar. The catch was known as the “Hooker clause.” The school and company made an agreement that the company wouldn’t be held liable if anybody got sick or died from the site. This is a perfect example of unregulated and unsafe waste dumping caused by businesses that the EPA now ensures doesn’t happen.
In 1976, Congress passed the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act to prevent illegal toxic dumping and the Toxic Substances Control Act, which gave the EPA the authority to regulate toxic chemicals for public health. Both of those acts were made before the school situation was discovered, but the whole situation wouldn’t have happened if the EPA had more power before. After the Love Canal incident, Congress and the EPA drew from a “superfund” to clean up America’s most toxic areas. The EPA spent most of the 80s cleaning up heavily polluted areas and improving the health of our country. One of the EPA’s main jobs is to clean up contaminated areas and restore land, but unfortunately their funding and support is decreasing, so it’s becoming more difficult to do that.
Another environmental issue is acid rain. According to the EPA, acid rain is caused by the burning of fossil fuels that releases sulfuric acid into the air. The sulfuric acid enters the clouds and mixes with the rain water, making it acidic when the rain falls. Acid rain can make bodies of water acidic and therefore kill the marine life. It also kills the leaves on trees and in turn kills the trees. The last effects are on limestone. Limestone contains calcium carbonate, which breaks down easily. Limestone is the most common rock in Indiana, so acid rain heavily influences our buildings and limestone reserves. Acid rain also causes erosion to occur, which changes landscapes at an expedited rate. According to sciencing.com, there are parts of New Jersey where over 90 percent of freshwater streams are acidic. The EPA now works to reverse the effects of acid rain on freshwater bodies with the Clean Air Act. This act helps ensure acid rain won’t get as bad as it has in the past. Without the EPA, Indiana’s bodies of water could become even worse than New Jersey’s.
More jobs could be created through the EPA to maintain regulations. As Bill Nye said, “You want jobs in the U.S.? Build wind turbines and solar panels. Get some geothermal, some tidal energy, and we could power the entire U.S. right now.”
The EPA is an essential government agency because it protects earth and human health. The EPA needs to continue to receive adequate funding and industries need to stop fighting environmental regulations.