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It’s clearly time to rename the Environmental Protection Agency

Honesty in labeling requires that President Donald Trump declare an emergency to rename (without congressional action, because that’s what emergencies are for) the government entity that has, since its founding, been called the “Environmental Protection Agency.” 

The agency’s traditional name suggests an odious bias in favor of environmental “protection.”

Trump nominated the current acting administrator of the EPA, former coal lobbyist Andrew Wheeler, to be the permanent administrator. According to the Washington Post piece on Wheeler’s elevation to permanency, during his period as acting EPA administrator Wheeler “has advanced President Trump’s push to rollback Obama-era environmental regulations.”

During an exchange at a Senate hearing with Sen. Bernie Sanders, Wheeler did not express agreement with Trump’s expressed belief that global warming/climate change is a “hoax,” but he doesn’t believe it is much of a “crisis.” One appreciates his flexibility in seeking middle ground between the views of his boss and the almost unanimous view of the scientific community.


The Senate confirmed Wheeler Thursday on almost a perfect party-line vote. All 47 Democrats voted no, but only 52 of the 53 Republicans voted aye, with Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, who voted previously to confirm Wheeler as deputy administrator, voting against him for the permanent position.

But the real crisis/emergency is having an agency with a misleading name that suggests a great deal of bias in favor environmental protection. I’m open to suggestion for words that could correctly reflect the agency’s actual purpose.

Comments (11)

  1. Submitted by Pat Berg since 2011 on 02/28/2019 - 03:44 pm.

    It’s official – we’re living in Opposite Land:

    https://www.penguin.com.au/books/opposite-land-9780143780816

  2. Submitted by Paul Sitz on 02/28/2019 - 07:26 pm.

    Rename EPA to EFUA. “Foul Up” as in snafu.

  3. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 03/01/2019 - 07:23 am.

    If you rearrange the letters, it could be the Ethical Absence Program, but frankly, I think Pat Berg has come pretty close with Opposite Land.

  4. Submitted by Elisa Wright on 03/01/2019 - 10:41 am.

    The Environmental Exploitation Agency? EEA?

  5. Submitted by Joe Bontems on 03/01/2019 - 01:10 pm.

    I believe that the name of this agency well portrays its ‘intended’ mandate and activities.
    However, the current and previous directors, recently appointed by that creature inhabiting the White House (at least for now it’s still white), might better be known by the honorific: DIRECTOR OF POLLUTING the Environment that all the other dedicated employees are valiantly struggling to protect.

  6. Submitted by Connie Sullivan on 03/02/2019 - 12:28 pm.

    I disagree with Eric’s suggestion of changing the name of the
    Environmental Protection Agency.

    We need to keep it, with all the blaring cognitive dissonance inherent in the diametric opposition between the agency’s name and mission and the polluting-industries’ shills that Trump keeps nominating to head it.

    And we need to keep banging the drums about what Trump’s EPA shills are doing to the environment that future generations will damn us for permitting.

  7. Submitted by Bob Barnes on 03/02/2019 - 10:03 pm.

    The same EPA that spilled massive amounts of toxins into a river out west? The same EPA that has literally failed to put anyone out of business because they only levy paltry fines? It should be shut down and disbanded. Let each State and locality handle pollution issues. Using property rights would be the best way to to do that and it would actually have the bite of putting companies out of business if they pollute…. something the EPA cannot and will not do.

    • Submitted by John Clark on 03/04/2019 - 09:23 am.

      The name of the federal agency, called the EPA, has certainly become a misnomer since Mr. Trump and his cronies have taken power, as Eric has suggested. But I would also agree with the other writer that the name, and also the mission of the EPA really should stay the same: and that is it should actually protect our environment!

      And it would also certainly be nice to think that this protection mission could somehow all be handled on a local or state level. But in reality, this just isn’t going to work. The source of pollution may be localized to one region or state, but the harmful effects of this pollution are rarely ever limited to just this one area. This is particularly the case with natural resources such as water or air. Agricultural runoff in Minnesota seriously affects water quality in the Mississippi River Delta near New Orleans. And the air we breath comes from: Who Knows Where? Remember the smoke in the air from the fires out west last summer? And the list goes on and on. And what really complicates this situation is: if the politicians in the one state where the source of the pollution takes place have been bought off by the local polluters there, then the neighboring states, or even states that are far down wind or down stream, or aquifer, are usually in for some serious trouble. So if the goal is environmental protection for all, then this responsibility must primarily take place on a national level. It’s just that simple.

    • Submitted by Brian Gandt on 03/04/2019 - 10:03 am.

      Bob, from my point of view, the EPA is hamstrung by special interest polluters influencing politicians. They usually are the types of politicians that you defend right here in Minn Post comments sections. That is rather dishonest to imply that you support anti pollution efforts while supporting those that would rather steamroll environmental protections.

      I would be interested in why you think that property rights would be effective in the role of environmental protection.

      • Submitted by Bob Barnes on 03/04/2019 - 08:20 pm.

        Politicians of all stripes have been a problem for longer than any of us have been alive. The EPA has never had any real power to actually shut down companies that are serious polluters. They are basically a revenue generating agency. They shouldn’t even exist.

        Let local and state officials and people deal with polluters. Property rights can be very powerful if they are enforced. No one has the right to pollute your property (that would include the water or air on/around/above/under etc). Where the EPA lacks real power.. you, as an individual or a group even, could take the polluter to court where serious fines could be levied and companies even put out of business.

        The EPA is like almost all other govt agencies. The fines and penalties they levy on businesses and people simply are not meant to put a stop to those actions or to scare others into not doing them. They have no real teeth so to speak. The one govt agency you don’t mess with is the IRS… because they WILL put you in prison and seize your assets if you don’t pay (at least if you aren’t one of the big boys like Apple or JP Morgan et al). Is anyone really afraid of the EPA like they are of the IRS?

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