Republicans' war on the environment: Time to counterattack

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Republicans' war on the environment: Time to counterattack

Postby Wilberforce » Mon Aug 05, 2013 6:05 pm

Republicans' war on the environment: Time to counterattack
Published 10:40 pm, Friday, August 2, 2013

The Republican leaders in Congress look so grim and dour on TV, always denouncing this and that, and voting -- for the 40th time in the House on Friday -- to repeal the health care reform law known as Obamacare.

Appearances are deceiving. If you read their tweets, you'll quickly identify one thing close to the hearts of House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell: These guys love coal.

They're out front going backwards. They want to strip the EPA of authority to regulate greenhouse gases that coal plants vent into the atmosphere. They pass resolutions denouncing a carbon tax although we don't even have one. They want children to go on breathing coal dust.

It's great for mining votes in West Virginia and Kentucky, but bad for the country . . . and a betrayal of the Republican Party's legacy.

Upon seeing Roosevelt Elk in the Olympics, I think of the Republican president who saved them. Theodore Roosevelt designated an Olympic National Monument that was the forerunner to today's national park. He did likewise with the Grand Canyon.

Yet, a century later, Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash., chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, grouses at President Obama when he protects 955 acres in the San Juan Islands as a national monument.

At trail signs marking the entrance to the Mount Baker and Boulder River Wilderness areas, I think of the senators who helped draft the 1984 Washington Wilderness Act -- Dan Evans and Slade Gorton, both Republicans.

Thirty years later, a Republican-run House Appropriations subcommittee draws up an environment and natural resources budget that reads as if it were authored by a 19th century robber barron.

The budget slashes the Environmental Protection Agency budget from $8.3 billion to $5.5 billion. It cuts 27 percent from the already underfunded U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. It cuts the National Parks Service budget. Spending on clean water is reduced by 83 percent.

The Land and Water Conservation Fund, in which offshore oil revenues are used to acquire endangered habitat and recreation lands, is eliminated altogether. Under which president was the LWCF launched? A Republican, Richard Nixon.

The House, in particular, has become a fantasy land of conservation-haters and climate-change deniers. In the upper chamber, Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., scoffs at the evidence and calls global warming "a hoax."

I guess, looking at these guys, you might not blame them for hating nature. Look at what nature has done to them.

A small gaggle of Republicans is trying -- trying -- to swim against the tide.

A quartet of former EPA administrators in Republican administrations signed a New York Times op-ed on Friday against the tide of air and water pollution that has engulfed their party.

They urged public support for President Obama's modest climate agenda, or carbon dioxide reduction and increased investments in clean air technology. Seattle-based William Ruckelshaus, head of the EPA under both Nixon and Ronald Reagan, was top name on the list.

In Seattle on Friday, Ruckelshaus made the case for the environment AND the economy, declaring: "We have 5 percent of the world's population and consume 20 percent of the energy. Instead of lecturing the world, what we need to do is develop alternative energy sources here and transfer their use overseas."

It takes but a modest use of intelligence to see the benefits. We develop a product, we market the product. We earn income, while the world benefits -- say, from China reducing the carbon it disgorges into the atmosphere.

Clean energy research? The House Republicans want to slash that, too.

The four ex-EPA bosses point out what is obvious in science. There is "no longer any credible scientific debate about the basic facts" of global warming.

"The costs of inaction are undeniable," they write. "The lines of scientific evidence grow only stronger and more numerous. And the window of time remaining to act is growing smaller. Delay could mean the warming becomes 'locked in.'"

Two further truths: There is potential economic ruin in letting climate change go unchecked. What we have done to clean up the environment has not brought about economic ruin, despite the big lies peddled by big polluters.

"Our rivers no longer burn, and their health continues to improve," write the ex-EPA bosses. "Acid rain diminishes each year, thanks to a pioneering market-based emission trading system adopted under the first President Bush in 1990. And despite critics' warnings, our economy continues to grow."

Hey, tell that to John Boehner, who daily echoes falsehoods from Big Coal and Big Oil that reducing emissions will cost thousands of jobs. Or to his GOP caucus, where a Tea Party tail wags the elephant.

The former EPA leaders -- Ruckelshaus, William Reilly, Christine Todd Whitman and Lee Thomas -- represent the Republican tradition of Teddy Roosevelt, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, George H.W. Bush . . . heck, even Reagan, who signed the Washington and Oregon wilderness acts into law.

The "new generation" is really a throwback to the 19th century. Its policies would bring disaster in the 21st century, not only to America but to the planet.

Say it to these jerks when they come home for choreographed meetings during the August recess.

source ... 704479.php
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