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The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ASPA as an organization.
By Monique M. Maldonado
February 26, 2016
Environmental policy has been an underdeveloped initiative for nearly 70 years. With current national security matters, celebrity sensationalism and the ensuing presidential elections, it is evident that the governance of environmental policy is menial at best. Global issues such as climate change has revolutionized the perception of negligence to importance in order to combat possible catastrophic environmental mortality.
Decisionmaking for environmental policy was instituted in the early 1960s. The first initiative was established in response to a major oil spill in 1969. A major rig, miles from the California coast, spilled 3 million gallons of oil into the ocean off Santa Barbara according to Dan Duray of the Huffington Post. Between the largest oil spill in American history and the debut of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, the foundation for formal policy began. It was under Richard Nixon’s presidency that the Reorganization Plan No. 3 of 1970 plan was signed, which gave birth to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). President Nixon addressed Congress with the following implications of EPA:
“As concern with the condition of our physical environment has intensified, it has become increasingly clear that we need to know more about the total environment–land, water and air. It also has become increasingly clear that only by reorganizing our Federal efforts can we develop that knowledge, and effectively ensure the protection, development and enhancement of the total environment itself.
The Government’s environmentally-related activities have grown up piecemeal over the years. The time has come to organize them rationally and systematically. As a major step in this direction, I am transmitting today two reorganization plans: one to establish an Environmental Protection Agency, and one to establish, with the Department of Commerce, a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.”
The EPA’s mission is quite simple: to protect human health and the environment. But since its establishment, there have been national challenges that continue to test the agency’s ability to mitigate large-scale matters. It is easier to believe that the EPA’s responsibilities only span across the United States. The fact is every step they take to protect the nation also fits a global perspective.
Currently, there are 15 environmental problems that impact the world. According to Rinkesh Kukreja of the Conserve Energy Future website, the following are global concerns: pollution, global warming, overpopulation, natural resource depletion, waste disposal, climate change, loss of biodiversity, deforestation, ocean acidification, ozone layer depletion, acid rain, water pollution, urban sprawl, public health issues and genetic engineering. Such issues are an overwhelmingly big task and the EPA cannot face them alone. These concerns require a global stance in making a difference to save the world.
Resiliency in Policy
The EPA understands the road it faces in mitigating environmental issues with lack of consistent conservation practices. Globalization is key to international participation in the fight for preserving a world that is depleting every day. With issues rapidly developing, environmental control is now a trending topic President Obama has emphasized many times during his two-term presidency. As stated on the White House website, President Obama took an “unprecedented action to build the foundation for a clean energy economy, tackle the issues of climate change and protect our environment.” This sole monumental act provoked the U.S. and China to unite to form a global partnership to lessen the pollution footprint. President Obama also established plans such as America’s Great Outdoors Initiative, which restores protected landscapes and parks, as well as increases admissions to water and land. The Obama administration also initiated the Interagency Climate Change Adaptation Task Force, Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force, Clean Water Framework, Louisiana-Mississippi Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Working Group, Restoring Ecosystem Resiliency and Suitability and many other federal laws to protect the environment and its most precious resources: nature and people.
The EPA has also been instrumental in developing innovative plans to get on board with President Obama’s historical accomplishments in policies. The infrastructure and guidelines are provided to protect a great nation as well as the world, but that is not enough. It takes international participation and alliances to implement, execute and stay persistent. With such solid policies in effect, consistency is the key to confronting environmental matters. These transformational laws will help change the way we handle ecological concerns. Let’s hope all that has been established sustains through the next presidency.
Author: Dr. Monique M. Maldonado is a veteran of the U.S. Air Force, an educational consultant, researcher, author and writer. She is an associate professor for the School of Security and Global Studies in Homeland Security at American Public University System. She is also a lead adjunct professor for the School of Graduate and Degree Completion programs at Tiffin University. Dr. Maldonado can be reached at [email protected].