EPA Regulations on Major Pollution Sources

Cancer, brain damage, infertility, developmental problems and even death — these are some of the long-term effects that have been identified of exposure to air toxins. These chemicals include arsenic, lead, and mercury, and are emitted into the air by sources of pollution around the country — sources that had been heavily regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency. However, a recent policy change supported by the Trump administration allows for a reduction on air pollution regulations. In the following paragraphs I will explain this issue and identify the key stakeholders, which include environmental advocacy organizations, the executive branch, and corporations in the petroleum, utilities, and fossil fuel industries. I will then conduct a stakeholder analysis for each group, examining the levels of power, attitudes, proximity, and interest present. While there are multiple parties at play here, the most influential power lies with the fossil fuel corporations that benefit from this reduction and sway the Trump administration’s policies with their substantial economic leverage.

On January 25, 2018, the EPA announced they will reduce regulations for major sources of pollution previously established under the Clean Air Act. The previously upheld “once in always in” policy stated that major sources of pollution would always be treated as a major source, even if they lowered emissions. The Trump administration sought to roll back federal regulations, allowing the EPA to reverse this policy. Under this new regulation, sources previously labeled as “major” polluters can be reclassified as “area” sources when emissions become lower than the established threshold. This eases regulatory pressures on utilities and the petroleum industry, and is heavily supported by corporations involved in fossil fuel emissions.

However, there is expected to be substantial pushback to this policy from environmentalist advocacy organizations, as decreases the protections against air pollution that were previously upheld. A stakeholder analysis shows that these groups have a limited amount of power; they lack monetary influence and a direct involvement with the legislative process, but they can make a significant impact by lobbying and other demonstrations. They hold high interest and are in strong opposition to the change, as they are passionate about the environment and this issue directly impacts it. However, they are less proximate than other stakeholders, such as the corporations that benefit from the ruling and the executive branch.

The fossil fuel industry is one of the most impacted stakeholders by this change, and one of the most powerful. Their interest is high and in support of the reduction, as the previous policy placed regulatory burdens on their emission processes; this interest is directly connected to their close proximity to the issue. Their substantial power is directly connected to their financial prosperity, as their economic success is of large importance to the current administration. Therefore, they have political sway in the form of monetary influence, which can help or hurt the national economy depending on their prosperity. This gives them incredible leverage over the Trump administration and its policies regarding their emissions, even when in opposition to environmental advocacy organizations.

The Trump administration and its subsidiary agencies, including the EPA, are the most powerful stakeholders here; they have the authority to create and alter these kinds of policies. While they are party to the limitations of the checks and balances system and advocacy groups, lobbyists, and judiciaries can work to overturn the ruling, they still have the power to make executive orders to push their agenda into action. The Trump administration has a close relationship with the fossil fuel corporations, as their monetary success benefits the country’s economy. Therefore, the prosperity of these corporations is of great interest to the administration and they will support policies that lessen regulatory burdens on them. Their close proximity to this issue, combined with their immense power, strong interest, and supportive attitude, makes them a highly influential stakeholder. However, they are swayed by the economic influence of these corporations, giving these industries more power in issues regarding their prosperity.

The final stakeholders are the mainstream media and the general public. Based on the way the media frames this issue, the general public will be influenced to either support or oppose the ruling. Therefore, the media has immense power over public opinion, which is perhaps why they have come under attack from Trump’s administration. The average citizen alone doesn’t hold much power in this issue, but with strength in numbers they could use the democratic processes to their advantage. However, while the media may give this moderate attention, there are constantly new stories arising from Washington, so this issue is likely to lose traction relatively quickly. Therefore, while the public may hold interest now, it will likely fade, along with their support or opposition. While there are multiple stakeholders at play here, the fossil fuel corporations and the Trump administration ultimately hold the most influence and investment in this issue.

On my honor I have neither given nor received unauthorized information regarding this work, I have followed and will continue to observe all regulations regarding it, and I am unaware of any violation of the Honor Code by others.

Works Cited

“Reducing Regulatory Burdens: EPA withdraws “once in always in” policy for major sources under Clean Air Act.” 2018. EPA.

https://www.epa.gov/newsreleases/reducing-regulatory-burdens-epa-withdraws-once-always-policy-major-sources-under-clean (February 1, 2018).

Reuters. 2018. “EPA Reverses Policy on ‘Major Sources’ of Pollution.” The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/reuters/2018/01/25/us/politics/25reuters-usa-trump-epa.html (February 1, 2018).

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