Green industries, although growing, are still having a hard time getting the acceptance from the U.S. Government in the form of funding, supporting regulations and support from the EPA (Environment Protection Agency), or as Grampa Simpson called them, Eepah! EEEPAH!
EPA was established in 1970. It responsibilities cover issues dealing with the protection of the environment and public health. They set clean water standards. They specify limits for toxic waste sites. They are also tasked to regulate industrial pollution, and now even the pollution from everyone’s vehicle. Law mandates that the EPA use proven science and technical and legal data to make decisions that are in the best interest of all citizens. (Contrary to the depiction in The Simpsons Movie, EPA doesn’t have armored tanks nor huge impregnatable city covering domes.)
In my opinion, these regulations should consider new environmental technologies. The EPA should take a role in fostering new technologies that create solutions for environmental protection efforts. When the EPA is doing its job, this happens. Such efforts have already helped spark development of U.S. green industries.
The problem? EPA is supposed to be partisan neutral. It hasn’t be treated as such under the current U.S. presidential administration. Its purpose and over all ability to function have been hampered on two fronts as a result of agendas that belong back in the Industrial Age. One, its budget has been substantially reduced to force it to downscale its operations. Two, according to a recent Design World article, the head of the EPA, appointed by the President, is an individual that seems to act without regard to science or even his own staffs recommendations, in favor of the President’s agenda. This agenda unfortunately focuses on protecting old industries, ignores the facts that those old industries can still be supported while encouraging green industry, and that old industries can actually be made safer and more efficient by using green technologies.
Beyond that, it is important to recognize that the human population is growing too rapidly for the current industrial centric paradigm to support in the long run. I’m not talking about Global Warming. Our planet simply does not have the resources to support the projected populations if things remain on their current path. Being the largest consumer of resources, the U.S. bares a large portion of responsibility for these issues. This isn’t a guilt trip. We simply need to act in our own self-preserving interests.
New technologies need to be supported, developed and implemented to deal with the changing and currently unknown challenges 21st Century will bring. Though some will argue that it is not the government’s job to be at the forefront of technological development, the reality is that this is a job the government takes on. Without government “encouragement”, industry acceptance tends to lag until problems is so big that it cannot be ignored. At times, this has been to the detriment of our country, as the current fiscal crisis attests.
The EPA plays a particular role in all this by working with (and sometimes against) industry to do what is best for America’s people. It can be a leader that creates new opportunities for U.S. industry, new jobs, new technologies, etc. Hopefully the EPA will be able to fulfill the role for which it was established. If allowed it, I believe it will benefit our economy (perhaps even sooner rather than later), including the creation of engineering jobs in the new and growing green industry.
Source: Michelle Shaland (2008) What’s the real role of the EPA?, Design World – August 2008