What would happen if we eliminated the EPA?

The Environmental Protection Agency was founded in the early seventies, like to many other socialist big-government agencies. Over the last 30 years, it has grown to a budget of over $10 billion and 17,000+ employees. Whether it has made a positive or negative impact on our country is a matter of opinion, but the fact is, it costs the American people a lot of money.

So, what would happen if we shut down the EPA? When the idea comes up of shutting down a major government agency like the EPA or DOE, a lot of people immediately think about the things that won’t happen. Some claim that corporations will dump waste in the oceans or CO2 will kill us all.

Since I happen to think the EPA does little good, if any, what I usually think of first is what would happen to the 17,000+ employees and their families if they lost their jobs? It sounds terrible to want to put those people out of work, so what should be done?

Today when I looked up the budget and staffing numbers, I found pretty much what I expected. The EPA costs almost $600,000 per employee to run. Now, obviously that’s not all salaries. There are other expenses such as utilities, office buildings, etc… But, it’s pretty clear that the money saved by shutting down the EPA would be more than sufficient to prop up those 17,000 people until they could find new jobs, plus save us a lot of money in the federal budget.

Also, keep in mind that that $10 billion isn’t producing anything. It’s not adding value to goods or providing services to people who want them. It’s just paying for an organization to come up with rules and apply them to the people. When a dollar circulates through the economy without adding value, it does nothing to stimulate that economy. Also, when that dollar is diminished in value because the hands it passes through all tear off a piece, it depresses the economy.

So what would happen if we shut down the EPA? Well, there would be an immediate 17,000 additional unemployed. The $10 billion saved would reduce the deficit, which would increase both consumer and world confidence in our economy. When confidence increases, people spend more and businesses expand and hire more, which in turn puts those 17,000 back to work.

Amazing, isn’t it? The free-market economy is a beautiful thing when government gets out of the way and let’s it work like it is supposed to.

17 thoughts on “What would happen if we eliminated the EPA?”

  1. True I think all need to be trimmed some. Large Corps can’t be trusted to do what is right. Profits rule too much.

    1. It’s interesting to note the similarities between the large corporations you speak of and the federal government. Both can’t be trusted to always do what is right, and both are heavily ruled by profit, with the only difference being that corporations are supposed to make money for their shareholders, whereas the federal government isn’t supposed to make money for politicians, lobbyists and community organizers.

      Like a large corporation, the fed is so far removed from the “boots on the ground” that it’s decisions are rarely rooted in any sort of reality. When corporations made bad decisions, shareholders lose. When the fed makes bad decisions, we ALL lose.

      The framers of our government knew about these sort of downfalls, which is why they insisted upon the States retaining the vast majority of power, and the federal government being restricted to only those things that could not be dealt with individually by the states, such as national defense. Unfortunately that conflicts with the socialist statist agenda, so over the years we have seen many attempts to transfer power from the state level to the federal. Unfortunately lately some big ones have succeeded, like the atrocity we all call Obamacare.

      It’s not that we don’t need someone to keep an eye on potential polluters, it’s that it shouldn’t be a massive faceless federal bureaucracy. In Illinois, we have the IEPA, founded in 1970. It might not be the best solution to the problem either, but at least it’s one step closer to reality.

  2. Which would save us the most by eliminating and which would cost us the most by keeping, subsidies to oil companies or the EPA? Would love you to try to answer honestly, keeping in mind that more jobs have been created and lives saved in 30 years by protecting our environment than by subsidizing big oil.

    1. The idea that the EPA creates jobs is a prime example of the broken window fallacy. Jobs that exist solely to regulate other activities don’t produce wealth, but instead are a drain on the economy. Drilling oil, on the other hand, converts a natural resource into a valued commodity, which means jobs that actually create wealth.

      As for the comparison to big oil, both the EPA and oil subsidies should be eliminated. The federal government has no business being involved in either one. At the same time, the government needs to get out of the way of the oil companies so they can actually operate without being hamstrung by regulations.

      As for saving lives, I’d “love” for you to provide evidence of how the EPA has saved lives. Making broad claims that somehow lives are saved by the EPA’s supposed protection of the water supply doesn’t count.

    2. Oil companies do not get “subsidies”. They receive the same tax exemptions, deductions, and benefits every other corporation receives. No more, no less. Some are specific to their industry, just as some are specific to, say, drug companies.
      A subsidy is a direct payment, like, farm subsidies. This does not happen.

  3. Almost every one of these arguments is inherently flawed. On the point of the deficit, $10 billion is negligible in the grand scheme of our multi-trillion dollar debt. 17,000 people out of work, however, is substantial. There seems to be a lot of confusion about the role that the EPA plays. There are far too many examples, so I will select two.

    1) The EPA enforces the regulations outlined in the Clean Air Act (also, the Clean Water Act). Among other things, the Clean Air Act regulates SO2 and NOx, emissions identified as hazardous to human health. Interestingly, this act and its subsequent modifications was a bipartisan effort, which would be nearly impossible in the polarized political landscape today. Clean air and water are public goods, well within the realm of government protection and regulation.

    2) The above article and comments completely neglect the cost savings associated with energy efficiency projects, a major component of what the EPA focuses on. For example, combined heat and power, a decentralized form of electricity generation that recovers waste heat, is being implemented across the country by private industries. A study conducted by ORNL found that if CHP were applied to 9% of large federal buildings, cost savings would be $170 million per year. And this is just one example. The EPA (along with the DOE) provides project development, partnerships, and resources for the implementation of these kinds of energy efficiency projects.

    @Jason, James makes a valid point. Emissions from coal-fired power plants are associated with premature death, heart attacks, asthma, and nervous system issues. Also, in the developing world, CO2 emissions are disrupting weather patterns, resulting in food shortages, starvation, water shortages, and conflict.
    Both of these phenomena are widely documented and researched.

    1. There are many things in the federal budget that you would consider negligible. Add them all up, and at what point do they reach real money to you?

      It’s a shame that 17,000 people would lose their jobs. How many jobs have been lost because of businesses that have had to cut back or have completely closed down because of the high costs associated with the EPA’s regulatory burden? Those 17,000 people don’t produce a product. They don’t provide a service that anyone wants. They don’t add to the overall economy.

      The Clean Air Act is a pig of a law. It may have been created with good intentions, but the EPA is using it to try to exert their power over all aspects of our lives. Look at their recent plan to regulate CO2. Besides that, being “bipartisan” doesn’t mean it’s smart or in the best interest of the country. Also, the states are perfectly capable of handling pollution concerns without a massive federal agency.

      Edison was doing cogeneration in the late 1800’s. He didn’t need the EPA or the DOE to tell him it was a good idea. A case can be made that overbearing government regulations in the early 1900’s discouraged cogeneration. So, the government passed another law to try and fix something that they broke in the first place. They just keep layering one faulty law on top of the last. If we’d release the chokehold we have on industry, we’d see a lot more innovation. Instead we form massive federal agencies that suck up billions of dollars to artificially stimulate development.

      The idea that CO2 emissions are causing climate change is being proven to be nonsense. That is “widely documented and researched”. As for coal power, I would love to see it replaced with something else. However, hydro is limited to location, wind isn’t constant, solar takes up too much space to generate any significant power, and the same agencies that you insist are doing good things suppress the building of any new nuclear plants by suspending and cancelling license applications. With the morass of regulations, subsidies, tax incentives, price controls, etc… it’s not surprising that little new innovation is happening.

  4. So we should just go ahead and pump more CO2 into the air? We don’t know the effects a hundred years from now. The levels can only get so high before a problem starts. I know I don’t have a crystal ball. Also shouldn’t we take care of the planet that has been given to us? Just some of my thoughts. yes maybe the EPA isn’t perfect but state governments are just as bad. Look at California.

    1. I don’t have time to go cite the references right now, but if you research it, we’re actually at a low CO2 point right now in relation to historical (1000’s of years) levels. CO2 isn’t toxic, it isn’t dangerous, and there’s no evidence that it’s causing anything to happen. You’re right, you don’t have a crystal ball. Al Gore and the rest of the global warmists seem to think they DO have one, however, because they’re constantly warning us about what’s going to happen, based on junk science and mere 40 years of data. Of course, they’re always wrong.

      Your logic regarding the EPA is faulty. It doesn’t make any sense to say that we need the massive stinking pile-of-you-know-what federal EPA just because some states’ EPA is also a massive stinking pile.

  5. At least you keeping keeping with the party line. I am just saying the research you quote could be said is wrong. I hope you are right.

    1. Not sure what party has to do with it. I’ve spent a lot of time reading the science around CO2 and temperature change in the oceans, etc…. I’m not an expert by any means, but I draw my conclusions based on my reading, not based on what any party might tell me.

  6. I work for the USEPA in New York City (Region 2). I have stopped the open burning of hazardous waste at a facility at which rare cancers were so prevalent even the wife of the company’s owner died of a rare cancer. I have stopped trench dumping of toxic waste near potable water sources. I can go on and on about my 30 year career. Only about 1 billion dollars per year goes towards EPA salaries and many EPA buildings are already owned by the US government so rent is not really a major expense. Most of out budget is forwarded to the States and contractors whom we oversea to make sure out federal dollars are well spent. If EPA were to be eliminated the state’s environmental programs would become so politicized that they could not function. I have had state counterparts beg me for USEPA intervention because state political leaders prevented enforcement by state inspectors/regulators. Also, most states merely adopt by reference federal environmental regulations promulgated by the USEPA. No EPA, no state regulation either!!!!!!! Bottom line: EPA is the only thing that stands between you and environmental and health harm.

    1. * “Only” $1 billion, like somehow $1 billion is a small amount of money.
      * Speculation about what would happen in the states is just that – speculation. We’ll never know, will we, because the USEPA will never relinquish an ounce of control.
      * “EPA is the only thing…” is a little overdramatic, don’t you think?

      You’ve named some positives from your career. Is there any point in naming the negatives? Can you say, “Clean Water Rule”?

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