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A Republican War on the EnvironmentDon Monkerud for Salem-News.com
A bill is loaded with a promise to business to end regulation and leaves only the profit motive to determine the use of land, water and wildlife.
(APTOS, Calif.) - As the nation's attention remains riveted on the GOP attempt to downsize government by refusing to raise the national debt limit, the party is working through the backdoor to destroy protections for the environment.
In a study that reveals the GOP pledge to protect business interests at all costs, the Center for Media and Democracy recently analyzed 800 bills supported by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). This secretive group consists of big businesses and conservatives who influence state legislatures around the country to lower wages and taxes on business, and weaken environmental protection that could crimp profits.
Undoing efforts to address climate change is a major priority of ALEC sponsors such as Koch Industries, Exxon Mobil, Wal-Mart, AT&T and Peabody Energy. For example, they created a model law-State Withdrawal from Regional Climate Initiatives-that is being introduced by state lawmakers to curb carbon reduction mandates and overturn cap-and-trade deals.
The GOP's efforts don't stop here. Because they believe private property should be the basis for environmental policy, owners become the only protection for the environment. According to the GOP, only self-regulation and a laissez-faire market can provide protection. Toward this end, House Republicans created a rider for the 2012 appropriations bill (H.R. 2584), consisting of items to weaken environmental regulations by cutting funding and rolling back rules.
While the Senate would have to confirm the changes and President Obama would have to sign the bill, it's unlikely that such changes will pass. The bill continues to change; nevertheless, the attempt reveals GOP plans to roll back environmental protections agreed upon by both parties over the past 40 years. The GOP promises more jobs and recovery from the current depression as a reward for such actions.
"Many of us think that overregulation from the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) is at the heart of our stalled economy," said Mike Simpson, Republican from Idaho. The bill cuts up to 18 percent of the funding from the Forest Service, the Department of the Interior and the EPA, and was voted out of committee by House Republicans. The bill is loaded with a promise to business to end regulation and leaves only the profit motive to determine the use of land, water and wildlife.
By blocking regulations the GOP would allow:
In addition, the GOP would:
These efforts make it clear that Republicans ignore the role of deregulation of financial institutions that sunk the economy and robbed millions of Americans of their jobs and their savings.
They hope voters will forget President Bush and the Republican role in this disaster, blame the depression on Obama, and give them the presidency in 2012. They destroyed the economy once and they can do it again-this time taking the environment with it.
Don Monkerud is an Aptos, California-based writer who follows cultural issues and politics and writes occasional satire.
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