[EarthPulseDaily] This past week (JAN.31.2011-FEB.4.2011), the GOP launched a campaign intended to restrict the EPA’s ability to regulate industry emissions. The campaign is focusing on rewriting the Clean Air Act so as to allow energy conglomerates the ability to continue to release emissions that the U.S. Supreme Court has deemed a danger to human health and well being.
Republicans are going out on a limb here. They are isolating themselves from virtually every respectable federal agency in an effort to protect a relatively few businesses in one industry. Not only has the U.S. Supreme Court definitively ruled on this issue giving the EPA legitimate authority to regulate industrial emissions, but prominent organizations like the AAAS, NAS, AMS, USFS, USGS, AGU, NOAA, NASA, DOE, DOI, APHA, ANA, AAP, AMA, ALA, the U.S. Military, and a whole host of other federal agencies commissioned with protecting and informing the American people and its government on social and environmental issues have released policy position statements that support the regulation of emissions as a vehicle for protecting the public from climate change and its associate risks. (See below for list of policy positions on climate change.)
In addition, the business community would like nothing more than to receive clarity from the government on where the country is going in terms of regulating carbon emissions. Many progressive companies have already taken the initiative to try to set the trend of the market in the absence of governmental leadership. By seeking to delay EPA regulation of emissions for two years, Republicans are forcing a period of prolonged stagnation upon the U.S. and world markets as investors will continue to remain on the sidelines waiting for clarity on the issue.
Furthermore, the American people have stated quite overwhelmingly that they do not approve of Republican efforts to restrict the EPA’s ability to regulate emissions. Even within the Republican party itself, a clear majority (61%) oppose efforts in Congress to block Clean Air Act updates for carbon, smog, and other forms of pollution. When Democrats are added to the mix, that number jumps up to 77%.
It is becoming quite apparent that another recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling, the one that protects unlimited corporate campaign contributions to lawmakers has resulted in the GOP focusing on a very narrow band of the American landscape at great cost to an overwhelming majority of the will of the collective public. This plan could very well backfire on the party, causing the positive results in the November.2010 election for Republicans to be but a minor upward tick on an otherwise doomed political party.
Republicans and their GOP have garnered support from a few organizations in favor of restricting the EPA, companies that are primarily focused on extracting fossil fuel energy from public lands or burning fossil fuels for profit. These include the API, NMA, and U.S. Chamber of Commerce, hardly organizations tasked with safeguarding America’s environmental treasures or the health and well-being of the American Public.
One of Ken Burns’ recent documentaries, The National Parks: America’s Best Idea, puts forth the proposition that preserving and safeguarding some of America’s prized landscapes from energy industry abuses is a quintessential American value; likewise, protecting the health and welfare of American citizens by their government form corporate abuses is another distinctly American value. By attacking the Clean Air and Clean Water Act, Republicans have chosen the side of irresponsible profiteers over the health and welfare of their constituents, and in a way are acting in a distinctly un-American fashion. This may not be a good long term strategy for the long-term viability of the party that prides itself on patriotism because it will involve a multi-decadal plan to systematically dismantle every federal agency tasked with safeguarding the American public and their environment in favor of allowing energy conglomerates the role of legislating industry policy. I simply do not see how this strategy will bear fruit for Republicans.
Since being elected, the Obama Administration has authorized its EPA with the daunting task of dismantling a majority of Dick Cheney and George W. Bush’s efforts to weaken the EPA as well as their wholesale deregulation of the energy industry. Some serious environmental, health, economic, and societal problems have arisen from the Cheney/Bush energy policies and have reared their respective ugly heads in the past two years. Coal mountaintop mining has resulted in not only severe environmental damage to Appalachia, but has also replaced thousands of coal mining jobs causing a spike in unemployment in the region; deregulation of the oil industry has resulted in conditions whereby drilling companies are able to take irresponsible risks at great cost to the general public; natural gas drillers, through the widespread use of hydraulic fracturing are able to inject millions of gallons of toxic chemicals into the ground without proper disclosure of its impacts upon freshwater sources; air pollution and its related health effects were all but ignored by the Cheney/Bush EPA, and asthma and other respiratory diseases have been on the rise.
So, it goes without saying (but I’ll say it anyway) that after directing governmental policy from 2000-2008 that energy conglomerates would take to the offensive against a change in policy that puts the health and welfare of the American people ahead of their industries’ respective profits. It is completely predictable that the coal, oil, and gas industries would challenge the EPA on this issue; but, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson shows no sign of backing down from the challenge, criticizing recent GOP attempts to introduce legislation that would limit her Agency’s ability to do its job.
Stating in an interview this week, she affirmed President Obama’s threat to veto any legislation that somehow makes its way through congressional avenues. Presidential veto power on policy positions is not a new thing. Republicans wholeheartedly supported former President Bush’s threats to veto any legislation that violated his principles, creating a sense in Congress at the time that any work that would be done on those issues would be wasted time and taxpayer dollars. Republicans, though, seem content with wasting taxpayer dollars and time, pushing congressional measures that have no hope of being passed or signed into law. Republican have not even been ale to garner enough support to pass their minority agenda through the Senate with regard to Healthcare Reform, a much more controversial topic that defunding the EPA or rewriting the Clean Air Act, according to American polls.
While President Obama did not mention climate change in his SOTU address to the nation in January, choosing instead to focus on developing a clean energy industry, he did bring up the issue of climate change in a speech at Penn State during the week.
Our homes and our businesses use 40 percent of the energy. They contribute to 40 percent of the carbon pollution that we produce, and that is contributing to climate change. It costs us billions of dollars in energy bills. They waste huge amounts of energy. So, the good news is, we can change all that. Making our buildings more energy efficient is one of the fastest, easiest, cheapest ways to combat pollution and create jobs right here in the United States of America. And that’s what we’re going to do.
Republicans in Congress are working feverishly to continue their assault on Science in general that the Cheney/Bush Administration set into motion. Cherry-picking information and leaving out vast data sets in order to craft a marketing strategy to sell to the media is something that Republicans have grown dependent upon in order to get their message across to the American people; that message essentially boils down to two arguments. The first one is that climate change is not a threat to human health and welfare; the second is that regulations will be bad for business.
On the first charge that climate change and unregulated industry emissions are not a threat to human health and well-being, more than several prominent federal agencies (including two-out-of-three branches of the U.S. Federal Government) would strongly disagree with Republicans and their financial backers:
Energy and the Environment;
THE WHITE HOUSE
Supreme Court Decision in Massachusetts et al vs. Environmental Protection Agency;
PEW CENTER ON CLIMATE
U.S. Department of Energy
U.S. Department of the Interior
The National Security Implications of Global Climate Change;
U.S. ARMY WAR COLLEGE
The scientific consensus on climate change;
AMERICAN ASSOCIATION FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF SCIENCE
Climate change at the National Academies;
NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES
Climate Change: An Information Statement of the American Meteorological Society;
AMERICAN METEOROLOGICAL SOCIETY
Climate change and forests;
UNITED STATES FOREST SERVICE
Climate change science;
UNITED STATES GEOLOGIC SOCIETY
Human impacts on climate;
AMERICAN GEOPHYSICAL UNION
Global warming; frequently asked questions;
NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION
Climate change, how do we know;
NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION
Addressing the urgent threat of global climate change to public health an the environment;
AMERICAN PUBLIC HEALTH ASSOCIATION
Global warming, a public health concern;
AMERICAN NURSES ASSOCIATION
Global climate change and children’s health;
AMERICAN ACADEMY OF PEDIATRICS
Global climate change and human health;
AMERICAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION
The fight against global warming;
AMERICAN LUNG ASSOCIATION
There is a lot of respected Science to completely ignore in order for Republicans to boil down the climate change and its subsequent regulation of emissions to simplistic talking points like ‘an unconstitutional power grab by the EPA‘ or ‘a socialistic plot to take over American politics‘, the two main talking points Republicans are using regarding President Obama’s clean energy agenda as of late.
It is quite a stark contrast when skeptics are placed alongside their well-respected counterparts, which is exactly what the Obama Administration needs to start doing; they need to start flooding the media, especially the Sunday shows (just like the Cheney/Bush team did leading up to the Iraq War) with experts from all of the above organizations informing the American people of the dangers of restricting the EPA’s ability to regulate industry emissions. Some talking points will be spun into victories for detractors, but the overall message will come through, namely that these organizations have all been making the case that a federal response to climate change is long overdue. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson’s courageous efforts to take on Big Energy and the GOP deserves nothing less than a flanking by the most respected scientists and organizations that this country has to offer. This is a make-or-break moment for the planet and its people.
Obviously, climate change is a threat to human health and welfare; the only people saying it is not are the people who are emitting the gases that are causing it. There needs to be a much broader campaign launched by scientists to try to explain the reasons behind the necessity of energy reform; politicians trying to explain the science of health and climate change is as futile as climate scientists trying to explain politics.
If the American Congress can not pass comprehensive energy reform this year then it will come up again-and-again in the future, leaving uncertainty to dominate the business community, relegating the economy to a permanent state of stagnation.
Progressive and innovative companies like GE, Cisco, Intel, IBM, as well as a whole host of utilities have started taking action despite the lack of leadership in Congress. These companies as well as all of the clean energy start-ups should be rewarded. The American people are starting to realize what is at stake with respect to climate and energy; businesses are starting to wake up and realize the long term potential of clean energy. If energy conglomerates were smart they would begin diversifying now beyond just coal, oil, and gas or risk going the way of the dinosaur.
Addressing the societal issues regarding the science of climate change will improve human health and well-being as well as introduce a new age of innovation and growth as America develops its very own clean energy economy.
Survey: Americans Say ‘No’ to Attacks on Pollution Safeguards, Gingrich Plan to Dismantle EPA; PRNEWS NRDC
America to EPA: Do More, Not Less; EARTHJUSTICE
123 U.S. lawmakers support polluters over children’s health; NRDC
Supporting polluters over children’s health (campaign contribution info. graphic); NRDC
Most at risk if EPA shackled: Infants, seniors, poor; AMERICANPUBLICHEALTHASSOCIATION
Obama administration threatens climate veto; POLITICO
Obama revives climate change talk; POLITICO44
EPA chief slams bills to block climate rules, affirms Obama’s veto threat; THE HILL
EPA chief defends new rules as critics in Congress take aim; POWERGEN
EPA to regulate toxic chemicals in drinking water; LATIMES
EPA reverses Bush-era water safety standards, will regulate contaminants; WASHPOST
Fracturing to get close look; HOUSTONCHRONICLE
EPA vetoes water permit for W.Va. mountaintop mine; AP
Testimony of EPA Administrator Jackson Before the U.S. Senate Committee on Env. and Public Works; COALGEOLOGY
AWWA testifies that science should be basis for regulations; WATERWORLD
Another Challenge to Greenhouse Gas Regulation; NYT
Open thread for night owls: Corking EPA regulation; DAILYKOS
USA: Republicans look to legislation to prevent CO2 regulation; INDUSTRIALFUELS&POWER
Congress to rewrite rules on emissions; WASHINGTONTIMES
Coal-State Democrats Joining GOP Efforts To Curb EPA; INVESTORSBUSINESSDAILY
Coal-country lawmakers ramp up push against EPA permit veto; THEHILL