Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Reagan and the EPA

"Trees cause more pollution than automobiles do."

Yes, Reagan really said this in 1981.

The history between Reagan and the EPA is complicated and full of twists. While he was the Governor of California, he had a very good record with the EPA and other environmentalists. This changed once he got into the White House.

He is praised by some, including the Republicans for Environmental Protection, or REP, who after his passing in 2004 wrote "His wilderness protection achievements are an enduring legacy for the American People. President Reagan signed into Law 38 bills that added more than 10.6 million acres of spectacular forests, mountains, deserts and wetlands to the National Wilderness Preservation System." Even the LA Times released an article praising him for his work while the Governor. But when he got into the White House, his approach took a change for the worse.
"The Reagan administration adopted an extraordinarily aggressive policy of issuing leases for Oil, Gas and Coal development on tens of millions of acres of national lands." This was the polar opposite ot what Reagan had stood for when Governor of California. Some people believe that his position in California was purely political, to appeal to the pro-environmental movement that was in California at the time.

Also, over 20 high-level EPA employees were removed from their jobs during Reagan's first 3 years in Office. Additionally, several Agency officials resigned amidst a variety of charges, ranging from being unduly influenced by industry groups to rewarding or punishing employees based on their political beliefs. Sewergate was the largest scandal of the era for the EPA. This involved the targeted release of Superfund grants to enhance the election prospects of members of the Republican Party. There were also moves made by Reagan to weaken the Clean Water Act, which resulted in Reagan vetoing a reauthorisation of the act, although this was overwhelmingly overridden by Congress. Under Reagan's administration, the then Administrator of the EPA made a move to "gut the Clean Air Act with proposals to weaken pollution standards 'on everything from automobiles to furniture manufacturers.'" This took Congress 2 years to defeat. Not only was it Reagan that was unpopular with the EPA, it was most of his administration.

In its first budget proposal the administration "tried to cut EPA funding my more than 25%," and this is said to have set Solar back "a decade." Additionally, during the first year of his administration, there was a 79% decline in the number of enforcement cases filed from the regional offices to EPA headquarters as well as a 69% decline in the number of cases filed from the EPA to the Department of Justice.
So even today we are feeling some of the effects of Reagan and his stance on the Environment. It is easy to see why the EPA did not like Reagan or any of his administration, as they made many attempts to destroy that branch of the Government and focus on non-environmental issues, to put it diplomatically.

Reagan was also very nonchalant when it came to the problem of Acid Rain, that had been destroying Fish and Plant life in America and Canada for years. In 1981, he said to Prime Minister Trudeau that he would honour the agreement made by Carter which required vigorous regulation on Pollution levels. After 3 years of a lot of talking and not much action, the EPA wanted Reagan to make a major budget commitment to reducing the causes of Acid Rain. However, the proposal was deemed "wasteful" by Reagan and his administration and thusly was rejected. He went on to question the scientific evidence on the causes of Acid Rain and was reluctant to impose additional restrictions on the industry.

Reagan did a lot to annoy the EPA and other environmentalists. He changed his view because of Politics and showed his true colours more so than any President has changed their behaviour at any point in History.
Few groups had more of a reason to hate him, due to his blatant disregard for the Environment. This is why I decided to use the EPA as an example of Reagan hatred, as trying to destroy them and go against everything that they stand for gives people a bad impression of what your views are on the Environment.

A Look back at Reagan's Enviromental Record.
Ronald Reagan on the Environment.

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