If Congress can’t reach a deal on the debt ceiling, we have a single week before the United States defaults on its debts, but the Republicans are still calling for some outrageous budget cuts to try to win the battle. The right’s latest targets are the Department of the Interior and the Environmental Protection Agency. Republicans have proposed a bill that would cut the Interior’s budget by 7 percent and the EPA’s by 18 percent, which would thwart dozens of vital environmental regulations. If passed, the laws would severely limit the EPA’s power to regulate emissions from oil and gas companies, open up uranium mining in the Grand Canyon, allow mountaintop removal mining, and prohibit the Fish and Wildlife Service from adding new species to the endangered species list — and those are just the most extreme examples.
There are 39 riders attached to the bill that would cripple the EPA’s regulatory oversight of big polluters and would give $55 million in subsidies to oil and gas companies. Republicans are arguing that the EPA “has lost its grip” and is an “overfunded” agency that is contributing to economic uncertainty in America.
“My intense opposition to the EPA’s efforts to control nearly every industry in this country is no secret,” said Mike Simpson (R-Idaho), chairman of the House Appropriations Committee’s Interior, in remarks on the House floor Monday. “The EPA’s unrestrained effort to regulate greenhouse gases, and the pursuit of an overly aggressive regulatory agenda, are signs of an agency that has lost its bearing.”
In regards to the endangered species list, Simpson said that the program is a failure because of the fact that of the 2,018 species currently listed, only 21 have recovered. “Any other program with such a poor rate of success would have been terminated,” Simpson said.
Thankfully, President Obama has threatened to use veto power to block the bill, saying in a statement that it “undermines core government functions, investments key to economic growth and job creation.” Additionally, the bill would face an uphill battle in the Democrat-controlled Senate.
Even still, it’s outrageous and upsetting that our political leaders want to overturn 40 years of environmental laws that protect our air and our water. What possible benefits are there to easing restrictions on pollution? Doesn’t everyone want a cleaner planet? As Rep. Henry Waxman, a ranking member on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said, “This is the most anti-environmental House of Representatives in history.”
“The new Republican majority seems intent on restoring the robber baron era where there were no controls on pollution from power plants, oil refineries and factories,” said Waxman in his remarks. “A strong and vital EPA is in our national interest and the public interest. If we disarm EPA as this bill would do, there is no one to stand up to the big polluters.”
Via Huffington Post