The Significance of Michael Regan’s pick as EPA Director
Rooted in the Facts is an ongoing series written by journalists, engineers, scientists, and enthusiasts designed to provide insight into Sustainability Initiatives, Green Technology, and Prosperous Circular Economies at the nexus of People, Profits and the Planet.
Sometimes you open the news to find outstanding, faith restoring updates on the world around you. While the team at GreenTek often focuses on fighting for circular economies without giving great weight to the larger political sea of influence, we do understand the importance of competent, genuine problem solvers being in positions of power. So this week its worth delving into a change in leadership that affects the bigger picture of a sustainable future.
Accountability means that despite headwinds, ingenuity and willpower can allow you to sail in the right direction—but its far easier with the wind at your back. However, the last 4 years have been a gale force wind against environmental protections designed to capsize the vessel. Let’s look at the numbers.
[oil and gas contributions]
While genuinely concerned citizens continue to fight climate change, in the last few years, hundreds of millions of dollars were spent lobbying to successfully reverse or weaken 130 environmental policies, and support the spread of misinformation to the masses. With 90+% of their contributions going to the republican party, last year the coal mining industry gave $7.3 million dollars to politicians who have voted against environmental policies to improve their profitability. The Oil & Gas Lobby? $112 Million, represented by firms like Faegre Baker Daniels, that generate half a billion dollars annually doing so.
Its easy to see why these companies promote the idea of sustainability & climate change as a hoax. Courts around the nation, have upheld calculations of the social cost of carbon emissions industry leaders produced to be over $120Billion dollars/year. This represents the socioeconomic impact of polluting upon the American public—damages for profiting without accounting for the waste. For perspective, that doesn’t even represent half of the profits the combined Oil, Gas and Energy industry pulls in annually, something they can and would be forced to pay in taxes if the American people better understood the dynamics. For example, Exxon Mobil is responsible for $5 Billion/year of that, yet has profits hovering around $15 Billion/year. Exxon has spent roughly $15 million/year lobbying against carbon taxation–an ungodly return on their investment.
[geriatric dr evil]
Who headed Faegre Baker Daniels LLP, representing coal magnates like the “Geriatric Dr. Evil” Robert Murray, who has slapped journalists with lawsuits to prevent them from publicizing his unsafe mining practices ruled to have caused the deaths of his workers? Who fought to obstruct green energy and undermine industry wide science impacting these profitable companies? Andrew Wheeler, a man who, following in the footsteps of his predecessors claim to be one the foremost fighters against environmental regulation for the better part of a decade. His reward– (*drumroll please*) being placed as the Director of the Environmental Protection Agency by the current administration. That’s what we call “letting the dingo babysit your baby”—it is the gale force wind
The problem with leadership outwardly espousing money, power, and a disregard for demonstratable truth/reality as your priorities & values over the people in a democracy, is that you will expedite your removal, a result demonstrated in this year’s greatest participation in an election in American history—one that seems to promise a breeze of fresh air in a stuffy, polluted room.
What comes with the new administration? A rational and reasonably inspiring selection in management on the environmental front. Fresh from leading the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality, where he successfully yielded multibillion-dollar legal settlement against Duke Energy for their toxic coal ash ponds, Michael Regan has the track record of a man of honor and competence. While spearheading efforts to reduce pollution, agricultural waste and environmental destruction concentrated near low-income and minority communities, he made a name for himself stopping chemical companies like Chemour from releasing toxic PFAs into local rivers, chemicals known to increase infant mortality, immune deficiencies, and even cancer.
These may be polarizing times, but it is not the facts that are polarizing—it’s our stilted perspectives. To reach our goals on the horizon, we must understand the forces that propel our ship, and who is at the wheel. With 10 times as much lobbying from Oil and Gas as that from greener alternatives, the forces may not have changed much, but with a stand-up individual like Regan cutting the winds, the odds have become substantially more favorable. For those of us who take seriously the tasks of improving circular economies, that’s an auspicious note to end the year on.
@MichaelSRegan — welcome to the fray, you are needed. Let’s get to work.
Photo Credit to the #WashingtonPost #Vox , #E&ENews and the #EnvironmentalDefenseFund