By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
President Barak Obama’s administration seeks to increase the power and authority of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) without seeking additional approval from Congress. In 2009, President Obama defined sustainability for the federal government in an executive order as the ability “to create and maintain conditions, under which humans and nature can exist in productive harmony, that permit fulfilling the social, economic, and other requirements of present and future generations.”
Last year the EPA funded a report by the National Academies of Science called “Sustainability and the EPA.” The purpose of the study was “providing guidance to EPA on how it might implement its existing statutory authority to contribute more fully to a more sustainable-development trajectory for the United States.”
In ‘Sustainability and the EPA’ the authors write that: “The growing identification of sustainability as both a process and a goal to ensure long-term human well-being is based on four converging drivers. The first is the recognition that current approaches aimed at decreasing existing risks, however successful are not capable of avoiding the complex problems in the United States and globally that threaten the planet’s critical natural resources and put current and future human generations at risk, including population growth, the widening gaps between the rich and the poor, depletion of finite natural resources, biodiversity loss, climate change, and disruption of nutrient cycles. Second, sophisticated tools are increasingly available to address cross-cutting, complex, and challenging issues that go beyond the current approach, which is risk management of major threats. Third, sustainability is being used by international organizations as a common approach to address the three sustainability pillars (social, environmental, and economic issues) in agreements which the United States is an active participant. Finally, the potential economic value to the United States is not to merely decrease environmental risk but also to optimize the social and economic benefits of environmental protection.”
The EPA wants the power to make economic decisions for Americans with the goals of not only protecting the environment but also to control America’s ‘population growth,’ decrease ‘the widening gaps between the rich and the poor,’ and limit citizen’s use of ‘finite economic resources.’
In an August press release, announcing the release of the report some call “The Green Book,” EPA argues that they need more power. “The recommended sustainability approach both incorporates and goes beyond an approach based on assessing and managing the risks posed by pollutants that has largely shaped environmental policy since the 1980s. Although risk-based methods have led to many successes and remain important tools, the committee said, they are not adequate to address many of the complex problems that put current and future generations at risk, such as depletion of natural resources, climate change, and loss of biodiversity.”
The report also argues that EPA already is empowered to implement these new controls by the 1969 National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and does not need authorization from the current U.S. Congress to implement this all encompassing new framework. EPA seeks to “strengthen EPA as an organization and a leader in the nation’s progress toward a sustainable future.” Obama’s EPA has recently used the same legal reasoning to implement new climate change regulations without the approval of the United State Congress that will result in the closing of several power plants in the coming year.
The Report acknowledges that “incorporating sustainability into EPA’s culture and process will take time.” and that these new powers will be implemented gradually in stages. “EPA is already engaged in many projects that further sustainability aims, but the adoption of this framework–-implemented in stages—will lead to a growing body of experiences and successes with sustainability,” said Bernard Goldstein, chair of the committee that wrote the report and professor of environmental and occupational health at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health.
There is no mention in the report of concepts such as: individual liberty, free market economy, capitalism, limited government, private property, or the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution which says. “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” Instead, the EPA wants the power to “forecast” and regulate activities based on their predictions of the outcome. Barack Obama appointee EPA Administer Lisa Jackson has called ‘The Green Book’ “the next phase of environmental protection,” and asserted that it will be “fundamental to the future of the EPA.”
In remarks to a St. Clair County Republican Party meeting in Pell City, U.S Representative Mike Rogers (R-Anniston) warned that the EPA had become too powerful and was an agency that should be abolished.
Sustainability will be the subject of a major United Nations Conference in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil in June.