The danger in fewer regulations

The understanding part eludes me; I simply do not get itj. We, the American people, have now experienced three years of consequential efforts to rollback environmental oversight in all construction projects that will now, directly, and into the immediate future impact our health, safety and survival.

The new year is merely a few days old and already President Donald Trump has taken action to clear the way and speed up development of more commercial projects by significantly cutting back on federal review of their effects on the environment. Trump says “our nation cannot compete and prosper if a bureaucratic system holds us back from building what we need.” However, the projects he references are simply big money-makers for businesses and corporations whose profits remain attractively good-enough, even if there’s as much attention to regulations by controls as to making-money.

What Trump calls for greatly narrows the scope and effects of a half-century-old National Environmental Policy Act, signed into law by former President Richard Nixon exactly 50 years ago. That law, now targeted for elimination, has required federal agencies to consider whether a project would harm the air, land, water and wildlife. It also has demanded that the public be afforded the right of input, review and opportunity to object where high risk is anticipated.

The bottom line in this matter is that the proposed rollback will gut environmental protections and take away the public’s right to know about and comment on potential project harm. The affected projects would include those out-of-pocket taxpayer-funded public and private projects; yet, American citizens negatively impacted by them will have no recourse.

It has been said and repeated often of late that there’s a new order of doing things in the U.S. What this means in practice is an end to regulations and protections by taking a virtual sledgehammer to decades of progress during which time the imposition of environmental controls has become the way we do things here. Meanwhile, it’s not bad enough that our planet is warming-up considerably, resulting in climate changes that bring more and more of the worst wind storms, flooding, higher tides and massive destruction of property and loss of life, but that we deliberately add to the problem by a federal administration that views matters through a prism of dollar signs.

The very viability for human life on Earth is in the balance when environmental regulations are thrown out and profit becomes the only recognized American value worthy of consideration. Apparently, we shall face imminent failure of the planet to support human life before any hue and cry effort is made loud enough to force changes that will save humankind. And then, what’s direly needed, may come too late.

(Gene H. McIntyre lives in Keizer and shares his opinion frequently in the Keizertimes.)