EPA under fire from right, left and middle

Living on Earth

Story by Living on Earth. Listen to audio above for full interview.

Folks on the left, the right and in the middle of the political spectrum all have one thing in common right now: they’re mad at the Environmental Protection Agency.

Jeremy Bernstein, publisher of the Inside EPA news service says things are contentious between the EPA and the community.

“I don’t think we’ve really ever seen unemployment at nine percent, and I think that is probably a big driver for some of this contention,” he said.

On the right, Republicans say the EPA regulations already in place, being implemented and being considered are keeping companies from being able to create jobs.

On the left, liberals are upset that some action that was promised during the campaign isn’t happening. While campaigning, President Barack Obama said he would, if elected, implement stricter regulation of ozone. That hasn’t happened, however, because the administration has said it would be unfair to those who are regulated to adjust to new regulations now, as well as in 2013, when the EPA is required by law to issue new rules.

But Bernstein says that in making both sides unhappy, the EPA is on stable ground.

“Many people at the Environmental Protection Agency would probably tell you they’re doing their jobs well if there is some unhappiness on all sides,” he said. “If only one side is unhappy, they probably haven’t done as balanced a regulation as they probably would like to do.”

However that could lead to problems, with an election coming up. Some Republican presidential candidates have proposed major cuts to the EPA, and Michelle Bachman would like to see the agency entirely dismantled.

There’s also a movement in Congress to try and increase legislative oversight of the EPA. One new bill that has passed the House of Representatives would require the EPA to look at economic costs of new regulations, but preclude them from looking at economic benefits. Another bill — not yet passed — would require a legislative vote for all major regulations. Many suspect that bill is unconstitutional.

“I think the environmentalists and other opponents of the rule have said that it would make it very difficult to move forward with regulations that they think are necessary to protect public health,” Bernstein said.

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Hosted by Steve Curwood, “Living on Earth” is an award-winning environmental news program that delves into the leading issues affecting the world we inhabit. More about “Living on Earth.”

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