- The Washington Times - Monday, August 11, 2014

But it seemed like such a good idea at the time: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency was founded with much fanfare and good will in 1970, when green thinking and eco-mindedness was a righteous thing indeed.

Now the EPA is deemed “a rogue agency” that has outlived its purpose and “should be dismantled and replaced.” So says the Heartland Institute, a Chicago-based nonprofit that has a plan on how to do just that.

“It made sense for there to be a single national agency given authority to enforce the nation’s new environmental protection laws in the first decade of the 1970s. But by the end of that decade, the lion’s share of benefits from that noble experiment were already achieved and the states could have been, and should have been, allowed to play their intended role in implementing the new programs,” says science director Jay Lehr, who authored the policy study.

Instead of reforming the EPA, he proposes creating something called a “Committee of the Whole,” which has a certain 1970s ring to it. It would include all 50 state environmental protection agencies, and would replace the federal agency over a five-year period.

“Fifty state environmental protection agencies with more than 30 years of experience have the talent to do the job without the oversight of 15,000 federal employees. It is, after all, well known that government close to the location of the governed is best for all,” Mr. Lehr says.

TRULY THE HEROIC

Almost three-fourths of Syria’s chemical weapons have been destroyed. A round of respectful cheers, please, for the military and civilian specialists aboard the U.S. container ship MV Cape Ray, all 650 feet of it, afloat on the Mediterranean Sea and given the task of neutralizing the chemical materials. The 35 mariners, 64 chemical specialists, a security team, and a contingent from U.S. European Command have been at it 24 hours a day since July 7, according to the Defense Department.

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons has confirmed the crew has destroyed 74.2 percent of Syria’s chemical stockpile — which originally amounted to 620 tons, according to figures released last week.

This is old-school, can-do effort. The ship has an onboard, seagoing hydrolysis system specially modeled after systems once developed by the former Aberdeen Chemical Demilitarization Facility — which had the fantastic acronym of ABCDF before it closed in 2007.

The hydrolysis process essentially mixes the bad chemicals with neutralizing agents; there are further treatments until the material is safe enough for standard shipping containers, and ultimately, commercial waste-treatment facilities.

In the words of the sages, way to go. And thanks.

AND WHAT THE REPORTER SAW

Which is not much. While the jittery mainstream media gets increasingly vocal about President Obama’s golf games and fundraising amid global crisis, there is some news from the boots-on-the-ground crowd in Martha’s Vineyard, on vacation with the president and his family.

“After an uneventful 21-minute ride past verdant fields, clapboard houses and one animated woman who threw the motorcade the shaka sign, the president and First Family is taking advantage of the weather and is spending a day at the beach in Edgartown. The name of the beach is not known,” Washington Post reporter Katie Zezima noted in an official report of the day.

Two and a half hours later, she added, “POTUS’s beach day in Edgartown is over. It’s unclear if the rest of the family is on the move or hanging out at the beach for a bit longer. POTUS is in the motorcade, which is rolling at 3:33 pm.”

The president went on to a private Democratic fundraiser later that afternoon. And for the confused and/or annoyed, “POTUS” is shortspeak for President of the United States.

But wait, there’s more. Hillary Rodham Clinton will be in Martha’s Vineyard on Wednesday to promote her book “Hard Choices,” appearing at the Bunch of Grapes Bookstore, right there on Main Street in the Vineyard Haven section of the island.

THE PERSISTENT HUCKABEE CACHET

Maybe they hope another local favorite will ultimately end up in the White House.

“Arkansas is a rare state that is relatively enthusiastic about the prospect of having a native son jump into the 2016 Presidential race. Forty two percent of voters in the state want Mike Huckabee to seek the White House,” says Tom Jensen, director of Public Policy Polling, which recently gauged voter interest in the former governor turned Fox News host.

It’s not quite a plurality, but the results are promising.

“It’s the best we’ve seen for any potential GOP contender yet this cycle in their home state. A third of Republicans in the state say Huckabee would be their top choice for the nomination compared to 12 percent for Ted Cruz, 10 percent for Jeb Bush, 8 percent for Chris Christie, 7 percent for Rand Paul, 6 percent for Scott Walker, 5 percent for Bobby Jindal, 4 percent for Marco Rubio, and 3 percent for Paul Ryan. Huckabee is particularly strong with women and seniors,” Mr. Jensen continues.

Mr. Huckabee even offers a little competition to the Democratic Party’s darling of the moment.

“Huckabee is also by far and away the strongest Republican for the general election in the state, leading Hillary Clinton 55 percent to 39 percent in a hypothetical contest,” Mr. Jensen says, who adds that Mrs. Clinton matches the popularity of the other Republican hopefuls.

“Part of the reason for Clinton’s respectable showing may be the residual popularity of her husband — Bill Clinton is still seen favorably by 50 percent of Arkansans,” he adds.

ONE FOR THE WARRIORS

Helpful programming of note Tuesday evening on CNN: “The War Comes Home” follows two young military vets struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder, to the point that “their relationships were crumbling, their children were frightened of their rages, and suicide became a choice both thought could be a solution for their anguish,” say detailed production notes.

The warriors put it all out there for all to see, though; they don’t hold back. The pair seek help with their complicated circumstances, they improve.

“Our hope is that people will understand how truly awful post-traumatic stress is, how destructive it is for families, how it robs potential from lives, and how we have it within our power as a society to help these veterans,” says Soledad O’Brien, who produced and hosts the one-hour special.

It also showcases Save a Warrior (Saveawarrior.org), a California-based group that has had promising results with vets in similar circumstances. The show airs at 9 p.m. ET, with three encore broadcasts scheduled.

POLL DU JOUR

76 percent of Americans trust doctors and hospitals with their personal information; 82 percent of Republicans, 81 percent of Democrats and 71 percent of independents agree.

70 percent overall trust major online retailers like Amazon; 72 percent of Republicans, 72 percent of Democrats and 69 percent of independents agree.

65 percent overall trust banks and brokerage companies; 68 percent of Republicans, 67 percent of Democrats and 63 percent of independents agree.

46 percent overall trust state and local governments; 40 percent of Republicans, 60 percent of Democrats and 39 percent of independents agree.

40 percent overall trust the federal government; 29 percent of Republicans, 56 percent of Democrats and 34 percent of independents agree.

26 percent trust social networking sites; 25 percent of Republicans, 31 percent of Democrats and 23 percent of independents agree.

Source: A Harris Poll of 2,306 U.S. adults conducted July 16-21 and released Friday.

Cheers, jeers to jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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