112 Congress is Most Aggressively Anti-Environmental in History

112 Congress is Most Aggressively Anti-Environmental in History

This Republican dominated House of Representatives is waging a full-scale war on America's natural resources.

    

The 112th Congress is Republican-dominated largely because GOPers co-opted the populist Tea Party movement, a reactionary movement instigated by high government spending in the wake of the recession. Though the Tea Party and Republicans differ on a few issues, and agree on quite a few, for environmental policies and regulations it was like throwing gasoline on a forest fire. Many Tea Party members see government regulation as a bad thing, particular those regulations regarding environmental controls like emissions standards, pesticide and insecticides for agriculture and waterways, clean water, clean air; really anything that tells people not to put poisons into our environment and make it more difficult for industries to do business. They're also disguising hacking and slashing regulatory budgets as "spending cuts", regardless of the fact that many of the agencies they're slashing protect American consumers. With the present congress, they have saddled their "smaller government" horse and are riding into a carbon-filled sunset.

 

     There have been 110 anti-environmental measures voted upon since the 112th congress took control on January 3rd of this year. Only 18 of those 110 have actually passed, but many of those were significant reductions in spending or authority to major regulatory agencies like the EPA. In fact, 22 of the votes were downgrading clean energy policies, 28 were against water or air pollution protections, and 20 were regarding climate change. Of those votes that passed the House; one blocks the EPA from requiring a Clean Water Act permit for spraying pesticides into navigable waterways, possibly contaminating locally caught fish and recreation areas. Another took away the EPA's ability to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. Several others limit or reduce the EPA and Department of the Interior's ability to regulate, block, or require permits for new offshore drilling platforms. Several also defunded special environmental technology and incentive programs by millions upon millions of dollars, even though many lawmakers have described green energy and technology as the driving force behind job creation. You can see the entire list of environmental votes, those passed and failed, at ThinkProgress.com.

     So what will this look like for us? Some of the most hard-hit areas are those areas in which we spend our vacations or go to for recreation. Here are some highlights:

  • Opening up 25 million acres of the Grand Canyon to Uranium mining, potentially polluting the drinking water of millions of Americans.
  • Cutting the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative's budget in half, hindering efforts to clean up pollution, restore wetlands, and fight invasive species.
  • Open up the Grand Tetons National Park to development.
  • Cutting funding for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation by $4 million, impeding efforts to clean up the bay and repair damages fish stocks. The Chesapeake Bay has the distinction of being the largest, most populous, and most polluted estuary in the country.
  • Block the EPA from controlling emissions and water pollutants from coal-fired power plants and cement factories in Minnesota (The Land O' Lakes) where pregnant women, seniors, and children are already warned not to consume Walleye (the state fish) more than once a month because of concerns about mercury poisoning.

     It's evident that our current House of Representatives are taking advantage of a political majority and a highly reactionary and irresponsible contingent of Tea Party members to systematically deconstruct decades of environmental policymaking. Furthermore, the present sideshow concerning the national debt ceiling and possible default is obfuscating these unethical measures from the American public. It's necessary that constituents contact their representatives and ask how they plan to vote on any of the upcoming anti-environmental bills.