Rodriguez for Congress campaign
Environmental Protection

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[August 23, 2016]  Rodriguez Believes Data-Driven Decisions Are Key to Wise Environmental Policy - Recently, while attending a county fair, I had a conversation with a gentleman who tried to convince me that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) needed to be abolished. I listened politely to his argument but then countered with an explanation of why such a position was unsound.

For those who are ideological conservatives, it is patently absurd to believe that they would be opposed to the idea of conservation—it is the very root of the modern environmental movement. Two Republican presidents, Theodore Roosevelt and Richard Nixon, were the greatest champions of the conservation movement, and each signed into law signature legislation that advanced the cause of environmental protection in the U.S. This topic is not one that should have a partisan divide between the left and the right; if anything, it should be one of the points of common sense agreement between people of different political stripes.

Regardless of political affiliation, we all appreciate the benefits of clean air and clean water, both on a personal and a societal level. Although a cost may be involved to achieve this, it is clear that the benefits far outweigh the shared burden to attain these goals. Although some might claim that the free market, if left to its own devices, would make wise choices and thereby protect the environment, we know from experience that markets do not have a reputation for making moral choices. It is through deliberate decisions, like removing lead from paint and from gasoline, that we see legislative solutions to societal problems that can be addressed. Were we to ignore such remedies that serve the public good simply to satisfy ideological purity, we would find ourselves in a dangerous world. For instance, would you freely choose to work in an asbestos-laden workplace, or to put it more bluntly, how much mercury do you like with your fish?

SDA - Ace

Common sense regulation that is rooted in the public interest is beneficial to society, but we must be careful to avoid the excesses of over-regulation that an increasingly bureaucratic state can create. Federal courts have recently blocked the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule that the EPA was hoping to enact as part of an expansion of the Clean Water Act. Under this proposed rule, the EPA would have redefined what constitutes “navigable waterways” and thereby extended federal control onto private property. I believe that the courts acted properly in this regard.

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The key to enacting common sense policy with regard to environmental protection is that decisions must be data-driven and not rooted in ideological talking points of either party. Failure to make data-driven decisions will only lead to more man-made disasters like the water crisis in Flint, MI. We can, and must, do better than this as a society, because today’s policy failures will have serious ramifications for generations to come. We cannot be science deniers. We need effective leadership and good stewardship to be our guiding principles as we move forward on matters of environmental policy.

My opponent has recently joined with other political ideologues to try to prevent several attorneys general in various states from moving forward with an investigation of ExxonMobil to see if the company misled its own shareholders and the general public from knowledge linking emission of greenhouse gases and environmental degradation. Key to this matter is the place of data-driven decisions that are based upon scientific assessments. The political class should not give shelter to special interests like multi-national corporations that withhold evidence because they wish to protect the company’s bottom line. Clean politics may be difficult to attain, but if clean air and clean water measures are any indication, it is possible to reduce the toxic irritants that we currently face.

[Text from file received]

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