Despite a looming government shutdown which threatens its funding, a strict law enacted last year to protect the environment came into effect Tuesday.
Known as Society’s Course of Action for Responsible Environmental Stewardship, the measure empowers the Department of the Interior to take aggressive steps to limit human impact on the planet.
“This is an important step to protect America’s natural heritage, for ourselves and for our children,” President Obama said during a press conference about the ongoing congressional budget negotiations. He noted that SCARES embodies several benchmark goals put forth in recent years by the United Nations.
“This has broad international support,” Obama said. “And as we all know, whatever is favored by the international community is automatically right.”
Ken Salazar, the Secretary of the Interior who will be responsible for implementing SCARES, applauded the legislation.
“The trees, the air, the various plant species and mountain ranges, they are all celebrating this monumental effort and singing to the beautiful skies,” said Salazar during a recent interview.
Numerous sweeping changes take place under SCARES. One of the most controversial measures is a nationwide ban on fishing. But because fishing is a popular sport dating back centuries, many officials fear the law may be difficult to enforce.
“Like slavery, there’s a deeply ingrained anti-fish, anti-environmental, anti-future-of-our-natural-heritage mentality out there,” said Under Secretary of the Interior Lauren Hughes. “Our job is to uproot this culturally integrated oppression for the better of our nation’s wildlife and environment.”
Hughes cited a recent study by the progressive environmentalist group, Revolutionary Green Army of the Earth, which described fishing as “a detriment to the ecosystem on par with nuclear testing.” To enforce the ban, Interior workers will close bait shops, restrict sporting goods dealers to non-fishing sports equipment, and confiscate all privately owned fishing rods, bait, and tackle.
National parks, traditionally used for athletic or civic purposes, will no longer be available for public use. As Salazar explained, “Using these parks oppresses and wears out the earth and cannot be permitted. We will preserve our land so future generations can also never use it.”
All such areas will be closed to the public, repaired and maintained for environmental integrity. A new agency, the Citizens’ Civic Committee on Parks, will enforce the law by jailing anyone caught trespassing.
Gary Harper, director of the CCCP, says he is prepared to implement the regulations.
“We will liberate the earth from the oppression of those who wish to enjoy the outdoors and partake in the natural world around them,” said Harper.
SCARES also requires all homes and businesses to recycle or reuse garbage. Homeowners and businesses can be fined up to $100 per piece of trash not recycled.
Recyclable items have a
lways included plastic, paper, glass, and aluminum. But SCARES requires more extensive measures to salvage all possible items that can be reused.
“You can reuse coffee grounds, wash paper towels and reuse them, or chop up food scraps and use them as fertilizer,” said Under Secretary Hughes. “We need to become more creative, instead of just tossing these things out.”
Interior officials will begin going door to door in May to search garbage bags to ensure the law is being followed. Sanitation workers from across the country will inspect trash bags piece by piece to identify and separate recyclables.
Secretary Salazar acknowledges that these so-called “search and rescue” missions will cost millions as the country continues to endure a recession and faces the prospect of a government shutdown. Many Republicans have called the new law an unfunded mandate that will burden municipal trash service. “However,” Salazar said, “protecting our future is well worth the time and money.”
Tough air quality standards are also mandated by SCARES. Smoking, automobiles, and gas grills are banned. But some lawmakers complained that the law did not go far enough.
“Talking and breathing release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere; we should regulate and restrict those two activities as well,” said Rep. Edward Host, D-Fla.
Water restrictions are also imposed. Americans will only be allowed to flush toilets in their homes once a day, per toilet, to cut back on water use. Showering, washing laundry, and other uses of water will be limited as well.
Homes and businesses are required to install special monitoring devices on their water lines to restrict the amount of water used daily. Similar to the garbage inspections, Interior agents will conduct routine audits to ensure compliance.