The Right Wing War Against the Environmental Protection Agency

The right takes aim at the EPA
Politics • Views: 36,660

The Tea Party’s activists in Congress aren’t finished with America yet; their next target for destruction is the Environmental Protection Agency.

Congresswoman and presidential candidate Michele Bachmann doesn’t want to wait for extinction, she advocates abolishing the EPA as soon as God puts the Tea Party in charge. She blames it for a host of anti-free market evils, from what she sees as an attempt to outlaw incandescent light bulbs (she countered with the “Lightbulb Freedom of Choice Act of 2011”) to the “hoax” that is global climate change. Take no notice of what elitist scientists say, Bachmann knows better, assuring us that “CO2 is a natural byproduct of Nature.”

The bill funding EPA and the department of the interior (HR 2584, if you want to look it up) is a dirty bomb, meant to destroy any rule that slows down environmental degradation. The legislation is so loaded with industry-backed amendments and riders – 77 so far – that it reads like a polluters’ letter to Santa Claus. One provision would allow uranium mining right next to the Grand Canyon. Another would stop EPA from regulating pesticides, even if the pesticides kill endangered plants, birds, fish and other animals. EPA’s funding would be slashed by 34% over the next two years, but America’s oil and gas companies would be given an extra $55m on top of the $36bn in federal subsidies they already get.

No doubt it’s the merest coincidence that Koch Industries, a major funder of the Tea Party, makes an awful lot of its vast profits off oil and gas exploration, petroleum refining and coal mining.

The bill’s many excrescences include assaults on fragile species, including grey wolves and Pacific salmon, America’s remaining wilderness lands and the very air we breathe. The EPA would be barred from limiting toxic emissions from power plants or setting fuel efficiency standards for cars, and, in defiance of existing law (to say nothing of common sense), the government could run its vehicles on fuels such as liquid coal, even though they’re dirtier than conventional fuels.

Worse still, the bill is festooned with more than two dozen riders undermining decades of progress on water pollution. Before the Clean Water Act was passed with bipartisan support in 1972, 30% of drinking water samples from around the country contained dangerous levels of chemical effluent, the Hudson River teemed with carcinogenic PCBs, piped in courtesy of General Electric and Ohio’s Cuyahoga River was so full of petrochemical waste it actually caught on fire. Now, Republicans want to forbid the EPA to limit the toxic stuff that rains down on streams and infests groundwater when coal companies blast the tops of mountains, and stop the EPA from protecting wetlands in areas that have experienced flooding. Never mind that wetlands mitigate storm water, and if you drain them, the flooding will only get worse.

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