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Another Republican Takes a Step to Ensure Death of the EPA

Legislation introduced this week by Rep. Sam Johnson (Texas) would gut 13 EPA programs and shutter all EPA field offices

EPA headquarters in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Coolcaesar/flickr/cc)

A House Republican this week introduced legislation to eviscerate the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The Wasteful EPA Programs Elimination Act of 2017, declared Rep. Sam Johnson (Texas), is a "commonsense bill does right by the hardworking Americans." According to a press statement from Johnson, the legislation "would terminate or eliminate federal funding for 13 wasteful EPA programs, would close all EPA field offices, and require the EPA to lease or sell all underutilized properties."

Among the programs it would kill are environmental justice programs and all EPA grant programs. It would strip funding for the greenhouse gas reporting program, regulating greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles, regulating greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel-fired power plants; and climate research at the EPA's Office of Research and Development.

The Hill writes that it "is modeled after a report from the Heritage Foundation," a conservative think tank. It also regurgitates a failed bill Johnson introduced in 2015, which Bloomberg BNA described at the time as "the anti-EPA bill to end all anti-EPA bills."

The Center for Responsive Politics, using data from the Federal Election Commission, reveals that Johnson has received $586,600 from the oil and gas industries from 1991-2016.

His, however, is far from the only recent threat to the agency.

Last week, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) introduced legislation to kill the EPA entirely. Beyond that, Trump's pick to head the EPA, Scott Pruitt, has been described as a "fossil fuel industry puppet" and climate change denialist who fought EPA regulations.

And Myron Ebell, the former head of Trump's transition team at the EPA, said to the Associated Press two weeks ago that the administration may pursue slashing the agency's workforce by half—or perhaps more. Further, AP writes: "Ebell suggested it was reasonable to expect the president to seek a cut of about $1 billion from the EPA's roughly $8 billion annual budget."

While Rep. Johnson argued that gutting the EPA was in the public's interest, reporter John Light explores how doing so is anything but, as it threatens public health and people's lives.

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