GOP “Carpet Bombing” of Environmental Protection Continues

<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/cobalt/297909841/sizes/l/in/photostream/">cobalt123</a>/Flickr.

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To the dismay of environmentalists, religious groups, and citizens nationwide, this week House Republicans (and a handful of Democrats) have been piling on amendments to the temporary government-spending proposal, or Continuing Resolution (CR)—moves that would further undercut regulatory powers for federal agencies with environmental protection duties. (MoJo‘s Kate Sheppard has more on the CR from last week.)

“This bill isn’t mere tinkering with policy, it’s carpet bombing some of our nation’s most important environmental laws,” Kierán Suckling, who heads the Center for Biological Diversity, said in a press release yesterday. “In crafting this bill, Republicans have created a feeding frenzy for those intent on dismantling laws that for decades have protected our air, water, climate, and wildlife.”

Environmental groups aren’t the only ones who oppose the amendments. This week the Church World Service stated that the “proposed draconian Congressional cuts” to bilateral and multilateral programs for clean technology, disaster risk reduction, and adaptation funding would “harm American long-term interests by reducing support for programs that promote a more secure and stable world.”

Particularly of concern among the 583 amendments are measures that would:

  • Prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating toxic air pollutants, including mercury (No. 201, Rep. Raul Labrador, R-ID)
  • Cut EPA funds for curbing greenhouse gas emissions including carbon dioxide, methane, and hydrofluorocarbons (No. 466, Rep. Ted Poe, R-TX)
  • Interfere with the EPA’s ability to limit toxic pollution from coal-fired power plants (No. 407, Rep. Ralph Hall, D-TX)
  • Bar the EPA from setting new health standards limiting coarse air particles (No. 563, Rep. Kristi Noem, R-SD)
  • Reduce the budgets of the Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Park Service (No. 556, Rep. Steve Pearce, R-NM)
  • Defund the Council on Environmental Quality, which coordinates environmental policy among all federal agencies (No. 202, Rep. Labrador)
  • Prohibit the Environmental Appeals board from reviewing or rejecting permits for off-shore drilling (No. 533, Rep. Don Young, R-AK)
  • Ban any contribution by the United States to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (No. 574, Rep. Pearce)

As a new survey released by the American Lung Association indicates, the public isn’t going to be happy about these measures, either. In a memo to the ALA, the pollsters wrote: “A bipartisan 69 percent majority believes that EPA scientists, rather than Congress, should set pollution standards.” And even when presented with the argument that EPA regulations will lead to higher gas and electricity prices and ship tens of thousands of American jobs to Asia, 63 percent of respondents said that Congress should not stop the agency from updating air quality standards.

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