Subject: EPA struggles to protect environment

It seems that the grass is not greener on the other side…
Morné Viljoen
Natural Resources Law Department
BDZ Attorneys
(W) (011) 886-4628
(F)  (011) 886-4452
(C)  083-395-3929 <>
December 4, 2006
EPA struggles to protect environment
A recent lawsuit is just another disappointing turn of events for the EPA.
s a landmark case is brought against the Environmental Protection Agency, it is impossible not to ask where we went wrong or, rather, where the EPA went wrong. Of course, government often has dysfunctional tendencies, but the EPA began its life with incredible purpose and an air of hope. The organization is now just a shell of its ambitions, and adjectives such as apathetic and ineffective would not be unfair descriptors. The EPA has transformed into a political tool and has lost its effectiveness.

Currently, a group of 12 states are suing the EPA over their failure to regulate the emission of carbon dioxide. Suing the EPA for shirking its duties is familiar territory for many states. In 2005, nine states sued the EPA over its decision to exempt electric utilities from a Clean Air Act provision requiring installation of strict mercury controls. The EPA's ruling flew in the face of mercury's well-documented health effects and the EPA's own admission that coal power plants are the largest source of mercury pollution.
Unfortunately, attaining change in environmental management is more complicated than disassembling the EPA. State regulation of environmental policy would seem preferable in some regards, but the ability of air and water pollutants to travel across state lines necessitates federal control.
Reform, however, is needed. The EPA has turned into a powerful political tool, and this has negatively affected its ability to function. In 2005, the EPA delayed the release of a study revealing that car fuel efficiency had worsened over the last decade. The delay coincided with a legislative vote on the 2005 energy bill, which largely ignored fuel efficiency.
The EPA needs to be separated from politics to become more effective. The organization should be run by scientists, not politicians nominated by the executive branch. At this time, the American people can only hope that the Supreme Court will make the important decisions that our current EPA seems incapable of handling.