White House Takes Aim at Republican Talking Point of Abolishing EPA

On the way to Flint, Mich., for a firsthand look at the city’s ongoing water crisis, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest criticized those in the Republican Party who want to abolish the Environmental Protection Agency. 

“We need an EPA that is properly funded and operating effectively,” Earnest told reporters aboard Air Force 1. “Eliminating that agency, as many Republicans advocate, is not going to contribute to that goal."

Situations like the Flint water crisis, where thousands of residents were exposed to high levels of lead in their drinking water, shows the “dangers of government at all levels losing touch with the people they are elected to serve,” according to Earnest. That’s why properly funding agencies like the EPA is so essential, he said. 

EPA headquarters

(Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg)

Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has previously called to “get rid of [the EPA] in almost every form. We're going to have little tidbits left, but we're going to take a tremendous amount out."

Legal scholars told Bloomberg BNA that such threats to abolish the EPA would not succeed because abolishing a federal agency, like the EPA, would require broad congressional support. It would also create unbridled chaos for everyone from regulated entities to local communities. 

Those concerns haven’t stopped Republicans from repeating the threats of abolishing the EPA or introducing legislation along those lines. 

In May 2015, for example, Rep. Sam Johnson (R-Texas) introduced the “anti-EPA bill to end all anti-EPA bills.” The Wasteful EPA Programs Elimination Act (H.R. 2111) would prohibit the agency from regulating greenhouse gas emissions from power plants, end all environmental justice programs and force the sale of all underutilized properties, among other provisions.