Today is April 15th, otherwise known in the US as Tax Day. If you haven't already completed your tax returns or filed for an extension, you have until midnight tonight to get it done.
I thought that this might be a good opportunity to review one of the government agencies that were formed to protect consumers from toxins and chemicals and see where some of our tax dollars are spent.
The Environmental Protection Agency, the EPA, was formed in December, 1970, by President Richard Nixon and given a mission to protect human health as well as the environment from "unreasonable" risks. The EPA is given the task to conduct environmental research, assessment and education. During the first few years of the agency's existence, the mission set forth by President Nixon was upheld. The early successful acts performed by the EPA included a ban of the harmful pesticide, DDT in 1972. DDT had become representative of the environmental hazards highlighted in Rachel Carson's book, "Silent Spring", published in 1962.
Once the EPA exercised its power by banning DDT, the chemical companies and big agriculture began to feel threatened by the EPA and its power and began a full court press effort with lobbying and special interest money to preserve their financial interest in all chemicals. The result has been an ineffective agency controlled by whichever political machine is in power. The epitome of this ineffectiveness is the inability of the EPA to completely ban such a known harmful toxin as asbestos.
The agency has been racked with scandal, misappropriation of money, bias in reporting and suppression of scientific data.....data that supports the severity of harm of chemicals that are still being used. This means that there is no action taken to remove known harmful chemicals from our environment. There is a very good summary of the EPA and these progressive weaknesses of the department, written by a former EPA analyst, Evaggelos Vallianatos, which you can find here.
The current budget for the EPA in 2013 totals $8,344 million. The projects are divided up into 5 goals in the graphic below which is taken from the FY 2013 EPA Budget in Brief pdf. The interesting and very scary & sad thing that I note here is that Goal #4 is Ensuring the Safety of Chemicals and Preventing Pollution and it has the smallest allocation of funds: 8.3% of the total. Why??? I would just like to know on this tax day why such a small amount of the total budget has been earmarked to protect our environment and our health as well as our children's health by ensuring that the chemicals that are being approved and used are safe and that pollution is being controlled. Tax man, answer that one for me, please.
What do you think about the chemicals that are around us? What kind of report card would you give the EPA in carrying out the original mission for the agency? Please comment below and let me know.