I commented yesterday on the current Republican Party visceral (and ideological) opposition to any supervision of environmental contamination from big business and corporation. I stated expressly:
We very well may need to remove overly burdensome regulation that stifles economic growth. As evidenced by their all out assault on all environmental regulation, this is not the Republican’s desire. According to their ideology, ADEM and EPA are illegitimate period. They are opposed to even intelligent regulation that protects consumers and citizens.
My congressman, Republican Mike Rogers, now makes his radical and ideological commitments explicit. In an interview, he comments:
For example, we didn’t have an EPA under Jimmy Carter. Who says the federal government has to have an EPA. Every state has their own environmental protection agency. Why does the federal government need to be doing that? Department of Education: I’m a big believer that education is a state and local matter, why do we need a federal department of education? I think we’ll have to look at a lot of things that we’re doing at the federal level and ask ourselves, ‘is this really what the federal role?’ And if not, discontinue it.
There you go: the EPA is illegitimate. (As well as the Department of Education)
Let’s dissect his statement.
First, as I pointed out yesterday:
Republican doctrine wasn’t always so hostile to environmental protection. The Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act of the 1970s had strong support from both parties. Republican President Richard Nixon created the EPA and told Congress in 1973 that America’s “irreplaceable heritage” had to be protected, arguing that “the price of economic growth need not and will not be deterioration in the quality of our lives and our surroundings.”
Jimmy Carter came after Richard Nixon; so we did have the EPA under Jimmy Carter.
Second, “is this really what the federal role.?”
At least as early as 1882, the constitutional legitimacy of federal oversight of pollution and enforcement of environmental protection was recognized and approved. Congress passed the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1882 which criminalized polluting rivers and navigable water ways. Federal Water Pollution Control Act of 1948 created federal water quality programs. Then there was the Watershed Protection and Flood Prevention Act (1954), Air Pollution Control Act of 1955, 1956 and 1958 Watershed Protection and Flood Prevention Amendments, Clean Air Act of 1963, Solid Waste Disposal Act of 1965, and it goes on.
I recognize that the constitutional limitation on Congress of just “regulating interstate commerce” has been stretched almost to meaninglessness; however, regulating environmental pollution is certainly within the province of federal power. Even the most strict originalist would agree. Air and water pollution do not stop at state boundary lines, it travels interstate.
There is certainly a federal role.