By Dilara Shahani
The purpose of the environmental protection agency is to preserve the environment and protect human health. However, in order to do so, it requires the support of the government and a fair share of funding. Since 1970, the EPA has worked to pass and enforce laws to reduce the harm being done to the Earth and work to promote a more sustainable lifestyle. In the past few years, the EPA has been a target for several politicians to belittle. But without the EPA, human beings might no longer have clean air to breathe or clean water without regulations being actively enforced. Under the new presidency, the EPA faces detrimental funding cuts, as Trump has proposed to cut budget funding by 31% and allocate more money to immigration and defense programs instead. This will lead to about a quarter of the EPA to lose their jobs, and more importantly, endanger public and human health. Currently, under the safety of the EPA’s multiple programs that allow humans to live safe and healthy lives, we do not understand what is at risk and how our lives will be negatively affected if almost ⅓ of the EPA’s budget is taken away.
Americans need a reality check. One of the more well-known acts of the EPA is the Clean Air Act, which controls air pollution. As of right now, many people question the necessity of this act as they argue they can breath fine and the air is not polluted. However, this is true as a result of the Clean Air Act! Look at China, for example, and how the Chinese government failed to effectively enforce pollution restrictions and regulations. The smog in Chinese cities are so thick that it has forced the Chinese government to declare a red alert: factories must be shut down, hindering the economy, and schools are forced to be closed, hindering children’s education. The misconception that the EPA only protects nature does not take into account long term effects. Without a thriving environment, the human population cannot grow and function properly. Our lives rely on how we treat the Earth, and if neglected, we will face the consequences.
Contrary to several politicians’ arguments, the EPA’s programs are actually saving lives and money. Businesses and factories can continue to run, and water and air is not filled with toxins that kill citizens.
Robert Percival, director of the environmental law program at the University of Maryland, said taking away funds and repealing the EPA, “Reflects a lack of understanding over the US legal system, you’d have to fundamentally repeal or change all our environmental laws”. Repealing the EPA would only cause difficulties in the legal system; Congress has delegated numerous of duties to carry out to the EPA, as well as a large collection of databases that is managed by the EPA to keep control over nation-wide health. Some Americans support transferring funds from the EPA to other programs, but without the EPA, there is no agency on the national level to continue the jobs like regulating pesticide use or keeping record of toxins. The federal budget must have priorities, and the EPA may not be at the top, but it is undeniable that the EPA is an imperative component to keeping the country safe and functioning. The progress since the addition of EPA programs is undeniable; The Clean Air Act, for example, has allowed for new passenger vehicles to be 98-99% cleaner for most tailpipe pollutants compared to the 1960s and sulfur levels are now 90% lower than prior to regulation. These changes are saving lives and allowing the global population to do the simple task we take for granted: breathing.
by: Dilara Shahani
This year, on March 18, the European Union created a deal with Turkey to lessen the chaos and disorganized mess of the refugee crisis. This hasty agreement was implemented in a time of panic as the numbers of illegally smuggled refugees skyrocketed. At the time, the main method to attain a legal, safe way to displace refugees was simple: For every one Syrian refugee who failed to find asylum in Greece deported to Turkey, a Syrian asylum seeker in Turkey will be relocated in Europe. The Turkish government would receive money to transfer the refugees, and if they held up their end of the deal, speed up the process of visa liberalization for Turkish citizens. However, this simple solution comes with a list of circumstances and unanswered questions. For example, one of the rules being the vague term of “refugees” only applies to Syrians, excludes refugees like pakistanis or afghans. Furthermore, the relocation of asylum seekers in Europe faces the dilemma of which country would be willing to take in more refugees?
As refugees finally arrive on the shores of Greek islands, ready to be relocated in Europe, they are often held for months in the camps that are most accurately describes as prisons. Each individual must go through a series of interviews and assessments topped off with a long period of waiting to either be welcomed into Europe or sent back to poverty and war. One of the main camps “Vios” located on the island Chios was created to hold around a thousand refugees, but currently holds a population over the double the intended population. Another one of the terms of the EU-Turkey agreement to better the sanitation and safety of refugee camps has been swept aside despite humanitarian groups like the Human Rights Watch declaration of the inhumane conditions. Furthermore, the terrible conditions in the camp has led to what is trying to be prevented in the first place; Refugees who grow impatient with the lengthy wait for their relocation turn to smugglers, human traffickers, or even recruitment from ISIS. This same island refugees in Turkey were willing to risk their lives to reach now would do anything to escape anywhere else.
Furthermore, many refugees have realized the EU-Turkey agreement is not entirely enforceable, and have found in the desperation to control the oppressing number of refugees entering the already economically weak Greece that there are too many refugees to maintain in order. One of the regulations was to send back any illegal refugees who crossed the sea from Turkey into Europe, but implementation has been mostly absent. The European Union has been forced to turn a blind eye to maintain the agreement itself and receives criticism for ignoring Turkey’s persecution of freedom of expression, under the growing authoritarianism of Turkish President Erdogan. The EU treads on tricky water as Erdogan has complained of the insufficient amount of money received from the deal and threatened to release a massive group of refugees into Europe if the EU does not fulfill all of its requirements in the agreement to Erdogan’s liking.