Among all the other bombshells that keep coming out of the nation’s capital, the embattled EPA administrator has been spending lots of time lately in the heat of the spotlight.
Scott Pruitt is under fire in two categories of life in Washington DC. First is his regulatory reform agenda and more recently, fending off claims of ethical breaches.
Let’s see if we can gain a little perspective of it all and take a look at the possible impact on the environment of the DFW area.
Congressional democrats, environmental organizations and nearly all of the media have decried measures to roll back some of the most prolific environmental regulatory reforms in the agency’s history that were written during the Obama Administration.
While that makes for current controversy in defining environmental policy, it’s not really much different than what the EPA has experienced throughout the life of the agency.
Since its creation in 1970 there has been the constant challenge of balancing environmental protection and economic opportunity so that both of these critical areas of American life can thrive.
Considering that the air is cleaner, the water purer and the land better protected than ever, combined with the reality that the people of our country are living longer and healthier lives, we can conclude that environmental protection is being achieved.
Meanwhile, the economy has grown substantially over the past 48 years, so we can also conclude that, in spite of all the controversy, both initiatives are succeeding.
President Trump has ordered his EPA administrator to redefine and, in some cases, rescind regulations adopted during the eight years of his predecessor’s reign. Pruitt has done that and apparently earned the president’s continued support.
We’ll see if he still has his job by the time you read this. Regardless, the regulatory agenda will remain on track.
One of those rollback’s is the recently announced relaxing of the fuel standards imposed on the automobile industry. That’s where we in this area of the country come more into the picture than some of the other reforms that have been announced.
Our area remains short of attaining compliance with the Ozone standard that has always been a challenge, especially with the continued expansion of our population making us the fastest growing urban area in the country.
Emissions from vehicles of all types operating on and off the roads of our region account for up to 70 percent of the pollutants that lead to Ozone formation during summer months.
Our air quality has continued to improve even as EPA requirements for achieving compliance have been strengthened over time.
Ultimate attainment of Ozone levels that meet current federal standards is highly dependent upon new cars and trucks operating more efficiently and producing less of the harmful stuff coming out of tailpipes.
Revising the standards previously imposed on engine manufacturers could, some may conclude, result in the modification of the state’s plans to achieve the necessary reductions at each of the area’s 20 air quality monitors.
A couple of things will very likely come about over time that will ensure we remain on track to achieve ever better air to breathe.
First are the measures already in place that will ensure improved air quality regardless of what happens with delays in better engine technology. Second, is the certainty of future administrations adjusting regulations to again find that balance I described above.
That has been the practice for almost half a century. It will continue and the controversy currently playing out with the EPA and President Trump taking heat from the left will take its place in history.
This is a long journey that goes on and on in this country — the one among all the others on the planet that’s leading the world.
Richard Greene is a former Arlington mayor and served as an appointee of President George W. Bush as regional administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency.