A Republican congressman from Florida has introduced legislation aimed at eliminating the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a federal agency created in 1970 by President Richard Nixon and tasked with protecting human health and the environment.
No text has yet been published for H.R. 861, introduced to the U.S. House of Representatives by Rep. Matt Gaetz on 3 February 2017, aside from its title calling for the agency’s “termination.” (Gaetz’s office told Snopes.com in an e-mail that they did not yet have the final draft of the bill, but they provided us with an interim copy which currently states that “The Environmental Protection Agency shall terminate on December 31, 2018.”)
The freshman lawmaker had previously told the Pensacola News Journal that if passed, the EPA’s functions would fall under individual state jurisdictions:
When it was originally created, states and local communities didn’t have the technology or expertise to protect the environment. We’ve come a long way in the last 50 years. Time and again, I’ve seen constituents unknowingly subject themselves to the oppressive jurisdiction of the EPA by doing simple things.
Gaetz has also said on Twitter that the bill would not impact the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which has monitored rising sea levels in his state that have been attributed to climate change.
According to the Huffington Post, Gaetz was more critical of the agency in an e-mail he sent to Republican colleagues, saying that “the American people are drowning in rules and regulations promulgated by unelected bureaucrats. And the Environmental Protection Agency has become an extraordinary offender.”
Gaetz’s bill has been co-sponsored by three other GOP congressmen: Rep. Barry Loudermilk of Georgia, Rep. Thomas Massie of Kentucky, and Rep. Steven Palazzo of Mississippi.
In January 2017, President Donald Trump’s administration reportedly implemented a funding and grant freeze against the EPA while also limiting the agency’s external communications. Trump’s appointee to head the agency, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, has publicly expressed skepticism regarding climate change and has sued the EPA multiple times to combat regulations governing the gas and oil industries.