A Proposal for Replacing the EPA

The year we moved to Cleveland, was the year the Cuyahoga River caught fire.

Leading up to this event, our country had seen fresh water lakes and rivers being polluted, and cities being subjected to air pollution and smog.

Few questioned the importance of clean air and clean water: Few people objected to the work the EPA was undertaking.

For the next two or three decades, the EPA accomplished great things.

Air Quality Improvements compared with GDP and Population Growth
Air Quality Improvements compared with GDP and Population Growth

There came a time, however, where the law of diminishing returns set in, and few actual improvements were made. And today, with 16,000 employees, the EPA has been transformed into a political organization, on a mission that has little to do with the environment, and all to do about control over the American economy and Americans.

While the EPA in Washington DC, was growing, comparable, independent environmental protection organizations were being implemented in each state. These state-centered environmental protection agencies or departments, have developed to the point where they are fully capable of maintaining the environmental gains that have been made.

This is at the heart of a new proposal by Dr. Jay Lehr, Science Director, Heartland Institute, to transform the EPA.

In essence, to devolve the EPA so its functions are assumed by the environmental agencies in each of the 50 states.

His proposal envisions a five-year transition, where the duties of the EPA are transitioned to the state environmental agencies, overseen by a committee of the whole, composed of representatives from each of the 50 state environmental agencies.

The committee of the whole would review all existing regulations and their relevancy to existing legislation, working with Congress to clarify or eliminate regulations not supported by legislation.

The 50 state environmental agencies have the talent to do the job without 16,000 EPA activists overseeing them.

It’s envisioned that this new structure, with the committee of the whole defining environmental needs, and the 50 state environmental agencies overseeing the regulations for their states, would improve the effectiveness of environmental protection, while saving 80% of the existing EPA’s budget.

Quoting from Dr. Lehr’s proposal, “It’s time for the national EPA to go. The path forward is now clear and simple: A five-year transition from a federal government bureaucracy to a Committee of the Whole composed of the 50 state environmental protection agencies.”

This proposal is logical and rational. It’s not a knee-jerk reaction calling for the EPA to be eliminated. It explains why trying to “fix” the EPA is a bad idea.

The complete proposal is available at http://heartland.org/sites/default/files/lehr_-_replacing_epa_0.pdf


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