By Nancy Chuda founder and Editor in Chief of LuxEcoLiving and co-founder of Healthy Child Healthy World
What price would you pay to protect our countries most coveted resources?
Last week, Republicans launched an unprecedented attack on our environmental protections. While under fire as the drama mounted concerning the debt-ceiling negotiations, GOP representatives added riders to cut the 2012 spending bill for the Environmental Protection Agency.
You can worry about entitlements like Social Security and Medicare being cut but without environmental regulatory protections American’s will face grave health threats. One trusted source, Natural Resources Defense Council president Frances Beinecke wrote recently, this body of lawmakers stands an excellent chance of becoming “the most anti-environment House of Representatives” in U.S. history.
Our country has become divided between those who believe there are health threats from environmental pollution and those who just don’t believe that pollution has an impact at all.
The real drama is between paid lobbyists and the GOP representatives… many of whom do not favor and have voted to “stop,” “block” or “undermine” efforts to protect the environment 110 times since January.
For the 112th U.S. Congress, stalwart representatives Henry Waxman and Edward Markey – two senior Democrats with solid green credentials – recently charted all the votes taken so far this year. The Republican-led House, according to Markey and Waxman’s rundown of 110 antienvironment votes made by the House so far this year, on average 97% of Republican members voted for the antigreen positions, while 84% of Democrats supported the progreen position. “As long as that massive chasm exists – and as long as Republicans view anything green as an ideological threat – we have no chance of crafting meaningful political action on long-term challenges like climate change or energy.”
Climate change and energy should be considered step-problems compared to the pre-disposed genetic markers that will succumb to an avalanche of exposures to unmonitored environmental pollutants, now and in the future. Our congress has been playing Russian Roulette for decades; an American Chernobyl of gargantuan pomposity.
In recent years the Republican Party has defined itself as staunchly anti-EPA and generally anti-environmental protection. Whether that means opposing legislation to curb climate change or new rules to promote energy-efficient lightbulbs, if it can be considered green, then the majority of the GOP is almost always against it. The antigreen ideology has been amplified by the rise of the Tea Party, and Republican presidential candidates on the campaign trail are fighting to see who can come across as more hostile to environmental regulations.
Give me a break! Let’m drink Green Tea! Old Newt and Michelle Bachmann have their own agenda’s and contracts for your earth. Both want to abolish the EPA.
And I can’t wait to catch SNL’s sketch of Sarah Palin, at a motorcycle rally, summing up the prevailing GOP attitude when she had this to say during her recent gas guzzling cross-country bus tour: “I love the smell of emissions.”
Extreme political polarization of environmental and energy issues isn’t a recent phenomenon. Just like those who believe the melting of the polar ice caps is a real sign of Global Warming, there have long been prominent conservatives who proudly called themselves conservationists back in the days when Republicans for Environmental Protection – an actual political group, founded in 1995 – wasn’t just an oxymoron.
Theodore Roosevelt – who carried a big stick has long been remembered as the greenest President in U.S. history. Teddy helped create major national parks and launched the U.S. Forest Service. Let’s not forget Richard Nixon created the EPA and signed the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts. And George H.W. Bush signed the landmark 1990 amendment to the Clean Air Act and supported a cap-and-trade program that successfully fought acid rain. His son, following in his footsteps wearing a ten gallon Texas oil patch hat, created the world’s largest marine protected area when he established the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument off Hawaii.
It’s as if monuments mean more to the GOP than adequate health protections. Here’s a partial list of the kick Em in the shins– the top 40 riders that antienvironmentalists of the House of Health Horrors produced last week:
* A rider that would prevent the EPA from issuing any regulations on greenhouse-gas emissions over the next year – despite the fact that the Supreme Court has ruled the agency has the responsibility to regulate those emissions as a public health threat under the Clean Air Act.
* A rider that would stop the EPA from carrying out tough new automobile-fuel-efficiency standards that were announced last week – standards that have the support of all the major automakers.
* A rider that would prevent the EPA from labeling the toxic ash left over from coal combustion as hazardous waste – something that would no doubt alarm the people of Kingston, Tenn., buried by a coal-ash spill in 2008.
What’s really hazardous – is the behavior between the GOP and the environmentalists, Democrats still in charge of the Senate. Those riders are unlikely to remain in the final EPA-Interior spending bill. Politics as usual! The demands were not about policy rather posturing for political downsizing of government… Wait a minute…isn’t environmental protection an entitlement for every American citizen?
Democrat or Republican, future generations will suffer the consequences. Case in point, conservatives care less about environmental regulations but more about business and personal freedom.
At a recent rally for Republicans for Environmental Protection, the real oxymoron that could be a reality show, the former Utah governor and Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman stated, “We will be judged by how well we were stewards of those [natural] resources,” Huntsman said. “Conservation is conservative. I’m not ashamed to be a conservationist.”
Yet sadly, cancer has claimed the lives of many in the Huntsman family and the big C might be tied to the petrochemical empire from which he rules.
I don’t know how you feel about this issue? I don’t believe it’s black or white, democrat or republican. I believe there is no debt ceiling when it comes to our nation’s health.
Without adequate protection the polluter will never have to pay and the price of your health, especially your children’s will suffer the consequences of a political quagmire which places greater emphasis on indebtedness to the party not the people it represents.