WASHINGTON – Republicans in Congress are continuing their effort to roll back regulations that were put in place the past eight years under President Barack Obama, including many that involve environmental protection. In addition, one Republican from Florida wants to take it a step further, and has introduced a bill that would terminate the Environmental Protection Agency.
The proposal – entitled H.R.861 – To terminate the Environmental Protection Agency – was introduced on Friday by GOP Congressman Matt Gaetz (R-Pensacola, FL 1) and would reportedly translate to a transition in oversight and regulations from the federal government to individual states.
Chautauqua County’s representative in Washington, Congressman Tom Reed (R-Corning, NY 23), told reporters during a conference call on Monday that he hadn’t been made aware of the proposal, so he couldn’t say if he would support it or not. But Reed did say he feels there has been an overreach when it comes to regulations that hurt business and residents in his district.
“I think the biggest problem facing the EPA is its overreach and its lack of cost-benefit approach to regulations,” Reed said. “I’m committed to a clean and safe and environment when it comes to things like our water and our air, but that also means that the regulations have to be reasonable in order to accomplish the success of keeping our air and water clean.”
Last week congress voted in favor of repealing an environmental regulation that prohibited coal companies from dumping waste into nearby streams, a move that was supported by the coal industry but widely criticized by environmental groups across the country and residents who would be directly affected. Reed supported the deregulation, saying the policy was an attack on the coal industry.
“They were carrying out an agenda in the EPA in order to pick winners and losers when it comes to the energy development of resources in America,” Reed said. “Obviously we don’t have any coal resources in the district that are being extracted, but talking to my friends in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Ohio that have made real commitments in developing coal resources in a 21st-century, modern manner – to me this regulation was an example of that overreach.”
Locally, Jamestown has benefited from EPA funding that works toward redeveloping so-called Brownfield Zones – which are former industrial zones that require remediation before they can be redeveloped. Reed said that those types of funding projects are reasonable.
“When you take that reasonable approach to that mission I think there is a lot that you can accomplish and do accomplish, things like brownfields, moving water and air levels in a positive direction when it comes to a cleaner environment. Those types of efforts are efforts that I support and will continue to support going forward,” Reed said.
Reed added that at the same time, there are specific regulations that hurt residents in our area.
“When you start seeing an EPA regulate drainage ditches on farms in Chautauqua County, to me that just doesn’t make any sense,” Reed said. “When you talk about regulating spilled milk in the dairy farms of Chautauqua County as a hazardous oil waste site, to me that’s not based on common sense. That’s based on some bureaucrats here in a cubicle in Washington DC that really are trying to tell the people who know best what they should do, based on some type of position they take in a cubicle.”
Reed’s comments come not only as a member of congress is calling for the abolishment of the EPA, but also as president Trump has already signed an executive order calling for the “One in, Two out” rule – which would require the government to remove two environmental regulations before he’ll sign off on funding any new regulations that are brought forward.