Thursday, July 28, 2011

Next Up on the GOP Hit List: The Environment

Turtle on the Grand, keeping an eye out for Pete.

If you think the debt ceiling battle is bad, just wait until we get to battle over the budget in the coming months. Won't America be surprised when these radicals threaten government shutdown if they don't get to pollute our environment...

With the nation’s attention diverted by the drama over the debt ceiling, Republicans in the House of Representatives are loading up an appropriations bill with 39 ways — and counting — to significantly curtail environmental regulation.

One would prevent the Bureau of Land Management from designating new wilderness areas for preservation. Another would severely restrict the Department of Interior’s ability to police mountaintop-removal mining. And then there is the call to allow new uranium prospecting near Grand Canyon National Park.

Those three examples don't even begin to describe the damage they would do. You really need to read this list to see how the Republicans are waging war against the EPA in an effort to eliminate clean air, water and wildlife protection. In fact, one Republican is openly bragging about how they would get rid of the EPA altogether should they happen to take back the Senate and White House next year. But, in case that doesn't happen, they intend to inflict as much pain as they possibly can now.

Representative Norm Dicks, Democrat of Washington and ranking minority member on the appropriations committee, said Republicans were adding provisions unchecked to the law and getting away with very little scrutiny. He expected even more regulatory rollbacks to be added to the bill this week. The bill is under open debate on the House floor, and policy changes requested by members but not included by the appropriations committee can now be added one by one to the bill, in addition to the 39 riders that came out of the committee.

“It is already like a wish list for polluters,” Mr. Dicks said, “and it is going to get worse on the floor.”

Conservatives have been adding amendments at a furious pace. Earthjustice, an environmental advocacy group, counted more than 70 anti-environmental amendments filed as of Wednesday morning and was monitoring for more.

Please, stop calling them "conservatives". This is not in any way, shape or form "conservative". Conservative, in the traditional definition, seeks to preserve what we have or to limit change. This is radical, destructive policy that wants to strip away all environmental protection and progress, and we can thank the Koch funded Tea Party for all of it. Freedom to pollute indiscriminately is their main goal and reason for existence in the first place. And yes, these Republicans will probably threaten another government shutdown over this (or many other budget issues) before the year is out.

But Mr. Goldston of the Natural Resources Defense Council said that although most of the policy attachments would never become law, the Republican appropriations flurry was still unnerving — and could pose more reason for concern in coming months. ”We are then going to be in a situation again where the Senate and president face the question of whether they are willing to shut down the government or appease a motley group in the House over a spending bill,” he said. “No one knows how that plays out.”

I wasn't kidding the other day (or back in April) when I said the GOP has declared war on America. I'm starting to see that sentiment echoed in op-eds more and more - perhaps as the budget plays out, the scope of the GOP's intention to radically change our way of life will become glaringly apparent.

Question is: Will the Democrats stand up and call this out for what it is? That's the only way we break through the "cult of balance" media who probably will be more than happy to trot out paid experts to proclaim that benzene in the water is good for you, and that we don't need all those animal species anyway.

Yes, that is a bit of tongue-in-cheek hyperbole, but nothing surprises me anymore. I fully expect to see every. single. budget. turn into a full-blown war over ideology, until we get to the point that the public is exhausted and disgusted with the "dysfunction" and tune out completely - and that's exactly what the Republicans have in mind.