Republican hostility for the Environmental Protection Agency isn’t exactly new, but it was nevertheless striking to see a leading Republican presidential candidate explain his plans yesterday to effectively eliminate most of the EPA’s responsibilities.
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) talked to the conservative Washington Examiner yesterday, and began by talking generally about shifting powers from the federal to the state level on “everything from Medicaid to transportation, workforce development, environmental protection, education.” The Republican presidential hopeful then got more specific:
“All 50 states have the equivalent of an Environmental Protection Agency. In my state, it’s called the Department of Natural Resources. Other states have different names, but again, I’d shift that power and that money out of Washington and basically just leave in place an umbrella organization that really is limited to mediating interstate conflicts over, say, where a body of water or a piece of land goes through multiple states.“Other than that, I’d leave those requirements and those responsibilities to the state government, where the people making those decisions have to live with them. And I think that’s part of the balance.”
Asked if he’d consider eliminating the environmental agency altogether, the Wisconsin governor added he would “essentially take their responsibilities and send them back to the states.”
If there was a “dispute” between states – your neighboring state allows toxic chemicals to be dumped in rivers, for example, but those rivers reach your state – the EPA in a Walker administration would be able to mediate, if it chooses to.
This probably won’t get as much attention as Donald Trump calling Mexican immigrant “rapists,” but Walker’s vision is every bit as radical. As the AP report on this added:
The EPA currently has the primary responsibility for enforcing many of the nation’s federal environmental laws and regulations, such as the Clean Water Act, and sometimes issues policy or guidance to encourage states to comply with those laws. […].Lisa Heinzerling, a law professor at Georgetown University and former EPA associate administrator, said Walker’s approach would instead result in 50 different air quality standards and 50 different states conducting basic scientific research to support environmental protection. “If Gov. Walker really does desire meaningful environmental protection in this country, taking power from EPA and giving it to all 50 states is a very silly way to achieve it,” she said. “His idea is a really inefficient, and almost certainly ineffective, way of protecting the environment.”
A Walker campaign spokesperson said the governor would have more details about his plans to overhaul environmental protections in the coming months.
Watch this space.