Carper Statement on the 50th Anniversary of the Environmental Protection Agency

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.), top Democrat on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, released the following statement to recognize the 50th Anniversary of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

“For 50 years, the American people have relied on the Environmental Protection Agency to ensure the air we breathe is clean, the water we drink is safe, the communities we call home are free of pollution, and the products we use are free of toxins.

“Many people may not remember a time before the EPA, before the Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act became law of the land. But I do. I remember when industries polluted our skies with plumes of acrid smoke and poisoned our waterways with toxic waste. Communities were cloaked in suffocating smog. Many of us have the luxury of largely forgetting these frightening circumstances today because of the work of EPA.

“For half a century, EPA has relied on sound science to implement our nation’s clean air, clean water and safe chemical laws. During that time, our economy has expanded, industries have innovated and business have created millions of new jobs, proving that economic growth goes hand in hand with environmental quality. But we have just seen the proof that this progress is not permanent. Over the last four years, EPA has endured a hostile administration hell-bent on turning back the clock. But even after a president who promised to ‘get rid’ of the agency in every form, EPA is still the world’s gold standard of science-based and compassionate care for our environment— because regulations can come undone and career employees can come under attack, but science evolves and our bedrock environmental laws endure.

“Just as progress is not permanent, neither is the damage that’s been done to our nation’s top environmental agency. The leadership and forward-looking vision of President-elect Biden and his administration will restore and renew EPA. Fifty years after its birth, EPA will once again help our nation overcome the most pressing challenges of our day.

 “On top of a deadly pandemic, an ever-deepening economic recession and a national reckoning of racial injustice, the United States is grappling with another crisis. The climate crisis. There’s a saying that, ‘history doesn’t repeat itself, but it often rhymes.’ We may not be experiencing all of the same problems we were in 1970, but make no mistake. From rising sea levels and more frequent and severe extreme weather events, we face mounting environmental threats again—and, this time, it’s our survival on this planet that’s at stake. Guided by science, EPA must use every tool in its arsenal and mobilize our entire economy to reach net-zero carbon pollution by no later than 2050.

“As we combat the climate crisis, the EPA must foster economic prosperity and achieve environmental equity. Today, too many people in our country—primarily in communities of color and Indigenous communities—still suffer the consequences of toxic pollution in the air they breathe and the water they drink. Systemic racism still plagues our society and decades of environmental progress has not been distributed equally. EPA will be critical in our efforts to prioritize environmental justice and finally make good on our promise of clean air, safe drinking water and healthy communities for everyone in this country.

“When future generations look back to this moment, I want them to say that EPA helped us meet and resolve the greatest challenges of our day. That EPA was guided by science and ensured cleaner air, clearer water and healthier communities everywhere. That EPA was pivotal in saving our planet from the climate crisis. Now, it’s up to us.”