Your Scorecard: The 110 Anti-Environment Votes in Congress This Year

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As the House of Representatives debates this weekend H.R. 2584, the 2012 Interior and Environment Appropriations bill, which some have called “the worst assault on clean air and water in history,” Reps. Waxman and Markey have released a scorecard of the other 110 anti-environmental bills voted on this year. The 39 policy riders attached to the appropriations bill are not included.

Visit the Democrat’s separate Energy and Commerce website for a complete list, and download a PDF summarizing each bill, its sponsor, and the outcome of the vote.

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Comic Relief? Anti-Environmentalism from George Carlin and the Onion

Comedian and former philosophy major George Carlin takes a biocentric approach to denying human responsibility for stewardship of the planet. Philosophically flawed unless you interpret it, as i do, as a reductio ad absurdum supporting environmental anthropocentricism. Take that, misinterpreters of Aldo Leoplold’s Land Ethic. From the earth’s perspective, our species is short-term and annoying mutation.  If Bible-thumping millinerianist members of congress and other anti-environmentalists had his sense of humor, this blog would be less depressing to read.

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In the same vein, a clip from one of America’s finest sources for hard-hitting journalism:

Planet Earth Doesn’t Know How To Make It

Any Clearer It Wants Everyone To Leave

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New, Wacky Ideas From the Most Anti-Environment Congress in History

A quick look at the amendments and policy riders attached to the appropriations bills now pending in the House makes it crystal clear that the GOP is desperately trying to eliminate every single environmental law ever passed or decided by a court.

The radically anti-environmental antics of the Energy and Commerce Committee have not gone far enough for some representatives, so they have taken to sneaking major national policy decisions into what Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA, ranking member of the Natural Resources Committee) called today “truly wacky amendments to to the 2012 Interior and Environment Appropriations bill.”

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Some of these are just kooky.

1. Preventing the use of funds for climate change research (Rep. Scott, R-GA)

2. Prohibiting agencies from agencies from buying compact fluorescent light bulbs (Rep. Rep. Blackburn, R-TN)

3. Eliminate funding for the Energy Star program, which identifies energy efficient appliances for consumers (Fleming, R-LA)

4. Eliminate funding to enforce the Oil Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure Program (Rep. King, R-IA).

5. Bar funding to regulate stationary source greenhouse gases for two years (Rep. Stivers, R-OH)

(See Rep. Ed Markey’s post about 39 legislative riders at the Democrat’s Natural Resource Committee site, and Brad Johnson’s post today on ThinkProgress Green for more)

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Others raise serious public health concerns. Ranking Democrats on the Energy and Commerce Committee Henry Waxman and Bobby Rush have written to Fred Upton (Letter to Chairman Upton) about 16 of these legislative riders.

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Where do folks like Rep. Austin Scott come up with such wise and useful cost-cutting measures, like eliminating climate research? Here’s how:

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Shimkus Tweet Reveals His Approach to Global Warming and Climate Science

We follow Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL) on Twitter (@RepShimkus) because he is chairman of the the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy, and serves on the Subcommittees on Energy and Power; Health; and Communications and Technology.
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And several times a day he tweets important legislative updates, as well as his energy and such as the following
This one came in late Saturday morning (7/16), and sums up in under 140 characters his approach to employing the best results from the scientific community to combat global climate change:
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Daniel 3:17 …our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O King.
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If you think Say What? is reading too much into this tweet, have a look at our earlier post that includes a video of his testifying at a congressional panel about climate change that Genesis reports God saying he would not destroy the earth again after The Flood, and the Bible is infallible word of God, so stop worrying about global warming. (Genesis 22:8, with chapter and verse included in the post below.)  Really, just chill already, climate scientists:

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click here for “What Me Worry? No Fear Here. God has It Covered”

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Outlaw Energy Education? Really?

This is surreal.  Representative Sandy Adams (R-FL) actually introduced an amendment (to an already crazy bill) that would prohibit federal websites from teaching children about energy efficiency. The good news is that even some Tea Partiers joined in to vote against active promoting energy ignorance, but it was actually brought to the floor of the United States House of Representatives, and managed to muster 181 votes (233 against).

Rep. Adams’ prepared remarks are posted on her own official .gov website. Click here to read it. The “wasteful spending” she was attacking is the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s “Energy Kids” website, which is also worth a look. (Flash driven site, so beware pods, pads, and mobile devices.)

Thanks to Brad Johnson at ThinkProgress Green for ruining my breakfast with his post about this.

More on this issue when I am less dazed at its stunning confirmation of one of Say What’s central themes: There really is an anti-science, anti-education, and even anti-rationality movement growing rapidly in the Halls of Congress. But have a look at Rep. Adams proudly promoting her amendment.  How will this play in her district in Florida? Complicated question, given Florida’s state-level history on education policy.

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There’s More! Influential Senator Joins House Flat-Out Lie or Scandalous Incompetence

More on the report (and accompanying press release) from Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton and three subcommittee chairs blasting Obama for Bush era EPA foreign grants.  No response yet to Rep. Henry Waxman’s call for a retraction because $21 million of the $27 million allegedly doled out in 2009-2010 is actually honoring grants made prior to 2009.

But never missing an opportunity for sometimes sophisticated demagoguery, influential Senator Jim (“The science on global warming is just not there”) Inhofe has released a video in which he rewrites the history of EPA spending.  Something he ought to know about, being ranking member of the United States Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works and ts chairman from 2003 to 2007.

Scientific Study Confirms Mountaintop Coal Removal Causes Birth Defects By Polluting Water, Congress Passes Bill to Deauthorize EPA from Enforcing Clean Water Act

One connection between “scientific study confirms mountaintop coal removal causes birth defects” and “Congress passes bill to deauthorize EPA from enforcing Clean Water Act” is that both happened yesterday.  The timing is a coincidence, but the other connection is definitely not:  Massey Energy.

Robert Kennedy, Jr. has been fighting alongside residents of West Virgina in a battle against Massey Coal’s practice of mountaintop coal removal.  The environmental impact of blowing the tops off so many mountains is dramatic, and one of the many effects of this pernicious practice is directly linked to a bill passed yesterday by the House of Representatives: water pollution. The connection is that H.R. 2018 deauthorizes the EPA from enforcing the Clean Water Act.

Appalachians (that is, people who live in the Mecca of coal mining) have been claiming for some time that mountaintop coal removal causes brain tumors,  birth defects, and other serious health issues. And coal miners are not exactly whiney wusses about their occupational health issues.  Birth defects in particular have been thought to be caused by what is dumped into the water supply by mountaintop coal removal. This week, a new study seems to confirm the claims about birth defects.  Read it here, or a look at a quick summary issued by the Natural Resources Defense Council here.

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RFK, Jr. is featured prominently in a powerful new documentary, The Last Mountain, about the battle over mountaintop removal. The official trailer for the film:

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Here is  review of the film from someone who lives there and was, like me, initially a little put off by the tone of the trailer.

The Natural Resources Defense Council has said of yesterday’s vote in the House that the bill “would demolish the very foundation for safeguarding our rivers, wetlands, lakes and streams.”  According to Steve Fleischli, a senior attorney in NRDC’s water program, “The House has unleashed the single-worst assault on clean water protections in a generation—part of a broader, ill-conceived attack on our air, lands, water and wildlife.”

The good news is that even if the bill ever makes it through the Senate, President Obama will undoubtedly veto it.  That it passed in the House would be astonishing if it were not part and parcel of the ongoing campaign to cater to oil and coal lobbies by attempting to eliminate virtually all the environmental legislation passed during and since the Nixon administration. That is actually an understatement; the Energy and Commerce committee is managing to make a very conservative Supreme Court look like a bunch of tree-huggers.

What can be said in favor of mountaintop removal of coal? Not much. It cuts the cost of a ton of coal a tiny bit, and that might lower your electricity bill by a few pennies. Far fewer people are needed to extract coal by blowing the tops off mountains than by mining it underground.  But even the economic arguments fall apart when one looks at the costs that are ignored, the economic externalities.  Local ones, not just those associated with continuing to rely on coal to generate electricity.  (On that issue, see today’s ClimateProgress post about Five Economic Reasons We Need to Move Beyond Coal.)

Look here later for an update on information about Massey Energy’s campaign and lobbying influence.

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Flat-Out Lie or Scandalous Incompetence?

Fred Upton (Chair of House Energy & Commerce Committee) continued his campaign to gut the EPA with a particular attack that we hope was an intentional lie and act of grotesque political demagoguery. Because the prospect of it being an honest mistake is even scarier, indicating a scandalous level of incompetence coming from someone who heads such a huge (54 members) and hugely important legislative committee.

The short version: Upton and the chairs of three subcommittees issued a report blasting the Obama administration for EPA grants to foreign governments and organizations, claiming that millions of dollars are being wasted as the EPA has ramped up overseas handouts since the 2009 stimulus package.

The Upton report and the accompanying press release asserts that the EPA has awarded $27 million to other countries in 2009-2010.  The truth turns out to be that $21 million of that $27 million was initiated under the Bush administration. Could it be that one of the most powerful committees in Congress (its staff, its members, etc.) are unable to read a budget sheet and understand when agency grants are awarded and renewed (as in, who was President, who was EPA Administrator, etc.?).

In a letter from ranking democrat Henry Waxman to Upton on Monday (July 11), the details are explained, and a retraction of the report is requested. Some excerpts:

“Your report concludes that EPA has “intensified its foreign grants program, doling out over $27 million overseas” since February 17, 2009, which is the day the stimulus was signed into law” [Memorandum to Members of the Committee on Energy and Commerce from Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Majority Staff (June 27, 2011) (online at http://republicans.energycommerce.house.gov/Media/file/PDFs/062711MajMem...].

“In a press release accompanying the release of the report, you state that EPA has “ramped up” foreign grants and done so “at an alarming rate.” [Committee on Energy and Commerce, Report Reveals EPA has Ramped Up Foreign Handouts, Sending Millions to China, Russia, and the United Nations Despite Record Deficits, Looming Debt Ceiling, and Soaring Unemployment (June 27, 2011)].

Your report asserts that EPA awarded $27 million in 65 foreign grants in 2009 and 2010.  In fact, the 38 grants initiated under the Bush administration account for $21 million of the $27 million obligated for these 65 grants.

“Far from “ramping up” grants to foreign governments, the Obama administration in most cases appears to be fulfilling grant commitments originally made during the previous administration. “

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A sign of how congress is working: The website of the official Committee on Energy and Commerce has been run in such a partisan manner by the GOP majority, it has led the democrats to launch their own, parallel website. Click here to visit it.

Compare this to the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, run by the democratic majority.

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In this earlier FOX News coverage of “EPA’s Shady Foreign Grants” during the past 10 years, no mention is made of who was President for (and therefore appointed the Administrator of the EPA, or which party controlled the congressional purse strings at which points):

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Stephen Colbert Reviews the Same Coloring Book

And, of course, Colbert does a much better job than Say What? But there are some definite similarities in our post and the one I happened to catch on The Colbert Report last night.

Ours (June 27):

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Stephen Colbert’s (July 11):

click here and go to the 3:00 mark. Embedding the video is a copyright violation. Ironic under the circumstances.

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Get Well, Blog Man!

We interrupt our usual attitude to send sincere best wishes to Andrew Revkin for a speedy and full recovery.

 

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