Pollution and the Government

As we’ve discussed, pollution can be affected by individual and corporate action. Corporations have a significant impact on the world, and simultaneously, on climate change. Their influence affects policies, consumer interests and surrounding communities, so the way that they approach pollution matters. One other entity with a similar level of influence is the government, both national and local. While there are some policies in place, it’s somewhat incohesive on a national level. Since 1990, the United States has followed The Federal Pollution Act. This established pollution prevention as the public policy of the United States. The Federal Act declares that pollution should be prevented or reduced at the source wherever feasible, while pollution that cannot be prevented should be recycled in an environmentally safe manner. As you can see, this is somewhat vague. There are other more specific standards with pollution however, like the standards put on heavy-duty trucks in 2016, which aimed to cut over a billion tons of climate pollution, while also benefiting public health by reducing emissions. All vehicles and engines operating in the United States must comply with emissions standards for pollutants including smog, soot and greenhouse gases. Because of these policies, newer vehicles now emit far fewer pollutants. We also follow certain standards regarding other forms of pollution as well, like the Clean Water Act, addressing water pollution. Its objective is to maintain and restore the integrity of all bodies of water in the United States.

Recently, there was a proposal for reform in our climate policies, called the Green New Deal. While it was most recently discussed and voted on in 2019, versions of this proposal have existed since the early 2000’s as a platform for candidates of the Green Party. The Green New Deal aimed to get the United States to move away from using fossil fuels, and to greatly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, with the ultimate goal being the elimination of the U.S carbon footprint by 2030. The Deal also focuses on shifting toward electricity from 100% renewable power, updating the power grid, and providing a new transportation system based around a high speed rail system. This version of the bill also would address economic inequality, with a surge of new jobs in renewable energy industries. Passing the bill would have meant a complete overhaul in every level of production, and our way of consumption. The Green New Deal, while ambitious, unfortunately did not pass the Senate floor in a 2019 vote.

The government has the power to help reduce pollution through a legal avenue, but it also has the power to hold those most responsible for this climate crisis accountable. Meaningful government action on pollution becomes more crucial with every day, as an obligation to the future of this planet.

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