by AVALON ZOPPO
President Donald Trump has big changes in store for the Environmental Protection Agency — from slashing $800 million from its funding to cutting back on regulations. But one lawmaker wants to go a step further and abolish the agency altogether.
Image: A coal-fired power plant near Center, North Dakota, in 2008
A coal-fired power plant near Center, North Dakota, in 2008. Tom Stromme / AP
On Feb. 3, Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Florida, introduced a bill in the House that would terminate the EPA by the end of 2018.
The bill comes two months after Trump appointed Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to head the agency — picking an ally of the fossil fuel industry who has long been skeptical of climate change and has filed 14 lawsuits against the EPA.
In addition to Gaetz, here are the Republican sponsors, most of whom cite job creation as their main objective.
Gaetz, a freshman, took aim at the EPA in a leaked email, obtained by The Huffington Post, saying Americans are “drowning in regulations” enforced by the agency.
“Our small businesses cannot afford to cover the costs associated with compliance, too often leading to closed doors and unemployed Americans,” Gaetz wrote in the email, which was circulated among possible co-sponsors.
If enacted, the bill would will give power back to the states and local governments, Gaetz said.
“To better protect the environment we should abolish the EPA and downstream resources to states for more effective & efficient protection,” Gaetz said in a Facebook post Friday.
Gaetz’s track record with the EPA is not a friendly one. For years, he pushed to repeal a state law that required all gasoline sold in Florida to contain a certain percentage of ethanol.
As a state lawmaker, Gaetz previously came under fire for criticizing athletes who refused to stand during the national anthem.
As a representative for Georgia’s 11th Congressional District, Loudermilk has served in Congress since 2015. Since then, he’s signed onto almost a dozen measures to pull back environmental regulations, including one that would eliminate renewable fuel standards outlined in the Clean Air Act.
After being flooded with messages online, Loudermilk defended the bill in a tweet, saying state and local governments are better equipped to protect the environment than federal agencies.
Of his support for scrapping the agency, he said: “The GA EPD would do much better protecting the environment than a big DC bureaucracy.”
Loudermilk was a vocal opponent of President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan, which was the first policy of its kind to set national limits on carbon dioxide produced from power plants.
He made a statement denouncing the plan in 2015, saying, “What the [Obama] Administration does not want us to know is that these standards would wreak havoc on our economy and inflict enormous costs on the American consumer.”
Massie, who’s represented Kentucky since 2012, has also long been an opponent of the EPA, which is why it’s not surprising he’s pushing to abolish the agency.
“The Constitution reserves lawmaking authority for the legislative branch, not unelected bureaucrats in the executive branch. The EPA makes rules that undermine the voice of the American people and threaten jobs in Kentucky,” Massie said in a statement Friday to The Louisville Courier-Journal.
Massie’s voting history reveals his disdain for the federal agency. On Friday, he voted to overturn a rule that limited methane emissions on federal land, and he has previously co-sponsored legislation to reduce the number of bodies of water included in Obama’s Clean Water Act.
At the beginning of the 115th Congress, Massie was assigned to three committees: Oversight and Government Reform; Science, Space and Technology; and Transportation and Infrastructure.
Palazzo, who’s represented Mississippi since 2011, previously signed the “No Climate Tax Pledge” — an Americans for Prosperity project encouraging legislators to oppose all climate change legislation that includes tax increases.
His track record on environmental issues includes:
Voting yes on a bill in 2011 to open the Outer Continental Shelf to drilling
Voting yes on a 2011 bill barring the EPA from regulating greenhouse gases
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More recently, Palazzo got backlash for being among nine Republicans who voted against naming a post office after civil rights activist and poet Maya Angelou.
How likely is the bill to pass?
While some conservatives are praising the proposal, the legislation has little chance of getting through both chambers of Congress.
“It’s hard to imagine Congress being willing to do so, and the American public would almost certainly virulently oppose such a move,” Ann Carlson, an environmental law professor at the University of California-Los Angeles Law School, told Bloomberg BNA in March.
Since its creation in 1970 under President Richard Nixon, the EPA has grown into an agency with an $8 billion fund. And throughout its history, politicians have called to end the EPA both on the campaign trail and through legislation.
Six years ago, Sen. Richard Burr, R-North Carolina, introduced a bill with 15 co-sponsors to consolidate the Energy Department and the EPA, but the proposal never made it through the Senate. And earlier that year, as a 2012 presidential candidate, New Gingrich proposed abolishing the agency, as well.