Friday, September 21, 2012

Republicans against the environment

I must me missing something here because I don't completely understand this:

Republican leaders in the House brought to the floor a bill called “Stop the War on Coal Act, “ which seeks to weaken and in some cases overturn laws and rules protecting the very things that Mr. Train stood for – clean air, clean water, a stable climate and fair effective regulation of the big polluters, including but not exclusively the fossil fuel industry.

The bill (which the senate will certainly strike down) contains no new ideas. According to a database compiled by Representative Henry Waxman and the Democratic staff of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, House Republicans have voted an astonishing 302 times this year to hamstring the Environmental Protection Agency, weaken clean water and air rules, undermine protections for public lands and coastal areas, and block action to address global warming – all while seeking to make the regulatory climate as favorable as possible for the oil, gas and coal industries. The virtue of the latest bill (I use the word virtue loosely here) is that it contains just about all of those bad ideas in one place –one-stop shopping as it were, for those who haven’t been keeping up with the Tea Party wrecking crew in the 112th Congress.

The only way I can make sense of this is that Republicans in the House are just shilling for the coal/oil/etc. I don't see the electoral purpose. I would assume the public doesn't mind having clean water and clean air. Their base probably agrees with these actions. But I think it's more about the fact that the EPA is a gov't agency and they reflectively hate all of them aside from defense agencies. Even the conservative base would probably not be huge fans of pollution.

The hatred of federal gov't agencies could be the biggest driver. But I don't think it explains trying to limit that agency 302 times. I'm not aware of them taking the same initiative to dismantle other agencies. They might in theory hate the Department of Education just as much as the EPA, but there aren't interests as big as coal/oil companies that stand to benefit from it's dismantling.

I could get into the ideological problems with favoring pollution. Even conservatives' beloved Hayek favored environmental regulation. But they just don't care about ideological consistency. And they seem to care less and less about being seen as shilling for big business interests. Not caring about how they are perceived combined with the backing of those businesses could mean problems for the environment now and going forward.

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