Hey, EPA, Good to See You; It's Been a While:
Believe it or not, kids, there was a time when the Environmental Protection Agency existed as an agency to protect the environment. Obviously, as a government entity, it was subject to the inevitable compromises and political turbulence that goes with getting a budget from Congress. But, you know, you could count on the EPA to generally kick some corporate ass every once in a while on shit like air pollution, water pollution, hazardous waste, wetlands degradation, and more. If you were a kid in the 1970s, you might have even seen the EPA as one of the more noble efforts of the government, the good guys, the ones who thought you should maybe grow up without shit streaming into your rivers, chemicals in your air, medical waste on your beaches, and an extra arm on your brother.
Started by Nixon, the agency was almost crushed by Reagan, as he slashed its budget and gutted regulations (and Republicans misused Superfund dollars). As bad as that was, at least some actions occurred. If you want to know just how little the EPA did during the reign of Bush the Dumber, look at the EPA's own timeline of accomplishments by decade. Even in the 1980s, the agency was still working to get rid of toxic shit in the environment. But then you look at the 2000s (which only goes up to 2006), and you see that the entire decade was spent shuffling papers, crumbling under White House pressure, and rotating in new heads.
Once the American cultural focus shifted from the sickness and death caused by pollution to climate change (and global warming), the Bush administration was able to make the idiotic doubts about science a reason to once again chain the EPA in the attic and leave it a quivering, frustrated mess, filling the mid-level ranks with pro-corporate toadies and doing, basically, jackshit for fear of angering a craven Cheney in his mad pursuit of all oil, all the time, no matter whose air it fucks up. As the New York Times put it in December of 2008, "One original initiative in eight years, saved at the bell."
This week, then, it was almost heartwarming in a retro way to welcome the EPA back to the business of, you know, environmental protection. The agency ruled yesterday that "greenhouse gases posed a danger to human health and the environment." The finding gives the Obama administration, through the EPA, the power to regulate and that "if lawmakers do not act to control greenhouse gas pollution it will use its rule-making power to do so." The power for the administration to do so is backed up by a Supreme Court decision from 2007, although, you know, there will be more lawsuits against any rules that are proposed.
In a crystal fucking clear conclusion, the EPA "finds that the combined greenhouse gas emissions from new motor vehicles and motor vehicle engines contribute to the atmospheric concentrations of these key greenhouse gases and hence to the threat of climate change." Got that? Humans cause greenhouse gases. The report was open for public comment for several months before this final one was issued. Through that process, Republicans in Congress have tried (and will continue to try) to discredit the entire study. Bags of dick James Sensenbrenner and Darrell Issa and others tried to insinuate that the EPA has a "desire to promote an environmental agenda dominated by extreme special interest groups."
But if you read deeply into the report, there's some awesome kicks in the nutsacks to climate change deniers. In a response to commenters about the "lack of consensus" on human contribution to global warming, the report notes, "the strength of the science is not determined by petitions or lists of names; rather it is determined by the detailed examination of the fully body of literature."
And in reference to a Senate minority report that attacked the science of climate change, the EPA responds, "Though the declarations, petitions, and letters referred to by commenters demonstrate the existence of dissenting viewpoints, they do not represent the viewpoints of the overwhelming majority of the active climate science research community nor provide legitimate scientific evidence to substantiate the alternative points of view presented." In layman's terms, "Goddamn, you are all such fucktards and losers."
So welcome back, EPA. And to the many Americans didn't even realize they were missing you, let's hope this is the start of a great reignited love affair.