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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

April 15, 2014 at 12:52 PM

EPA: More change might be needed, but don’t overlook what’s been done

M. Ryder / Op Art

The guest column in The Seattle Times charging that the EPA has failed in its duty to protect public health and the environment brings the EPA’s dilemma front and center [“How the EPA has failed its duty,” Opinion, April 12].

The EPA is attacked from the right by Republicans, as being a rogue agency attempting to over regulate, and from the left for being in the pocket of business, consistently doing its bidding.

The EPA’s principal charge is to protect America’s public health and environment, and to do so by balancing other social concerns such as economic prosperity. This is a hard, complex job. When the agency falls short of its mission, it should be called to account.

But we should not overlook the incredible changes for the better that the EPA has put in place since 1970, when the agency was formed: We have twice the number of automobiles on the road, yet our air is appreciably cleaner; many lakes and rivers have been cleaned of toxic waste.

More change is needed. In particular, control of toxic chemicals in the environment and of fossil-fuel-created carbon, which causes climate change and ocean acidification.

Reasonable and informed criticism about the EPA’s statutory mission or its efforts to carry it out can be helpful. Broadsides from the left or right diminish citizens’ trust in those who carry out our laws, and weaken our commitment to making America’s democracy work.

William D. Ruckelshaus, former first and fifth administrator of the EPA, Seattle

Comments | More in Environment | Topics: climate change, EPA, William D. Ruckelshaus

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