A year ago, a flagrantly criminal President, trump, was hacking and slashing at regulatory agencies. The worst attacks on the integrity of government since Reagan were in full flood. Trump is gone, and some repair is under way under Biden. How long repairs will take,and how complete they will be, remains to be seen. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and many other agencies never fully recovered from Reaganism. But, things are looking up at the moment.
Environmental Justice (“EJ”) may finally be taking hold in a meaningful way. I say “may” with reason. When EJ became a matter of law in the 1980s, EPA created a bogus EJ industry of people and orgs paid to gin up fancy-ass rhetoric that sounded nice but left poor and minority communities as helpless and polluted as ever. But, more people are finally making the connection between poverty, political disempowerment, pollution, and disease. “Climate Justice” is a thing. Historically lilly-white “enviro” orgs are jumping on the EJ bandwagon and belching out emails. Whether results will be delivered in suffering communities remains to be seen, but there are grounds for some hope.
The literature on the health effects of air and water pollution continues to grow and solidify. It’s indisputable that “compliance” with the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act (etc) isn’t good enough. Much more aggressive efforts to give people clean and clean water would pay huge social and health benefits. The question is: how do we get there, politically.
The Elephant in the Room, of course, is climate change. The two states I follow most closely make interesting comparisons. Delaware is by far the lowest-lying state, with a mean elevation of 60 feet. (Florida and Louisiana are next at 100 feet.) Minnesota’s mean elevation is 1200 feet. Both states are experiencing accelerating disruption, but it’s likely that much of Delaware will be under water within a generation or two. Minnesota will survive,and perhaps receive many climate refugees. Neither state has taken much meaningful action to abate global warming, nor seems likely to.
Both states are experiencing meltdowns in the quality and integrity of environmental regulation. Thus, as the need for effective environmental regulation grows, the ability to actually deliver it declines. “Regulatory Capture” (by special interests) is where we are at.
For some details please see “Earth Day “Broken Promises”: How Special Interests Capture MN Government,” from Paula Maccabee and Don Arnosti.
Scorecard for Tim Walz, the Governor of Minnesota: https://www.walzclimatereportcard.org/
While the details apply to Minnesota, the overall pattern is equally or more applicable to Delaware. We aren’t coping with the challenges before us.
By all means protect yourself from the Covid-19 pandemic. Shortages of vaccines seem to be over. Get vaccinated! Delaware is a high Covid state.