Hacking the EPA’s Budget Can Impact Florida

The House spending bill that has been proposed for 2012 is looking to hack $60 billion from the federal budget. And when it comes to The Environmental Protection Agency, they’re out for blood. Most initiatives advocating environmental regulation are under fire.

In addition to policies enforcing water pollution limits in Florida and the regulation of greenhouse gas emissions nationwide, the Environmental Protection Agency’s regulatory programs were targets of the new Republican budget resolution. The proposal hopes to eliminate 30% of the EPA’s budget – which constitutes the largest cut to any agency out of the entire bill. It bars the EPA from regulating greenhouse gas emissions and hopes to eradicate The Clean Air Act.

The recent legislation has spawned a swirl of debate on Capitol Hill as of late. The House GOP claims that such legislation will work towards combating the rising costs of gasoline. This claim, however, is receiving a heaping amount of backlash from House Dems.

The Hill reports:

The claim — which Republicans including Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) are touting — has struck a nerve as pump prices move up the political agenda.

“It is one of the most pathetically, economically invalid arguments ever made in human history,” Rep. Jay Inslee (D-Wash.), a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, told E2 Wednesday.

Senior House Republicans have tailored their political messaging on the bill to focus more heavily on gasoline prices.

Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) is the chief sponsor of the bill that will be taken up Thursday in the Energy and Power subcommittee.

One thing is for sure: gas prices are on the rise. The AAA auto club reports that the average gasoline price in Florida is $3.57 as of 3/11/2011. That’s a whopping 46 cent increase in just this past month. House Dem’s made sure to investigate this matter, and their findings suggest that the GOP’s rhetoric is just a cheap attempt to pander to the uninformed masses. Their claims are rooted in an industry-commissions study of cap-and-trade legislation that died in 2009. It’s just downright unfair to compare a 2009 bill to the EPA’s rules of 2011.

The potential health threat this legislation present s is staggering. With an increase in pollution and environmental toxins comes an increase in the number of annual children diagnosed with asthma, brain cancer, mesothelioma, and other serious health problems.  EPA administrator Lisa Jackson has since echoed this message, stating:

“I am accountable for ensuring we squeeze every drop of public health protection out of every dollar we get. If Congress slashed EPA’s funding, concentrations of carbon pollution would increase … the result would be more asthma attacks, more missed school and work days … and more premature deaths.”

Asthma, even for adults, is one of the largest contributors to work and school absenteeism. The illness results in almost 15 million lost workdays each year. Furthermore, mesothelioma symptoms (a rare cancer that forms on the lining of the lungs) are often mistaken for symptoms of asthma. When left undiagnosed, the mesothelioma life expectancy does not generally exceed 14 months.

We can only hope that the proposed legislation does not become law. Slashing the funds to climate change programs is not the answer to our economic struggles. If anything, carbon emission regulation saves us on the collateral costs of things like hospital bills. We must raise public awareness of the threat posed by restricting the EPA.

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