Save the EPA. Save our kids.

Finally, a TV ad that spells out, simply and powerfully, what is at stake if the pro-pollution side is able to gut the Environmental Protection Agency and Clean Air Act — our children’s health:

Rhetorically, it’s hard to go wrong with an extended metaphor (see “How Lincoln framed his picture-perfect Gettysburg Address: Extended metaphor“).

The WashPost‘s Greg Sargent writes:

With several key votes set for next week on the GOP’s ongoing assault on the Environmental Protection Agency, this new ad gives us a hint on how the left intends to respond “” by portraying the GOP push as an assault on children and infants.

The Senate is set to vote next week on a GOP proposal “” strongly opposed by the White House “” to revoke the E.P.A.’s authority to regulate greenhouse gasses. The new spot from American Family Voices, an organization that advocates for lower-income and middle-income families on economic, health care and consumer issues, goes directly for the heartstrings with images of babies and baby food jars, claiming the GOP initiative would cause a spike in baby food pollutants and possibly infant deaths:

I don’t think that’s quite right.

First, while the AFV is progressive, saving the EPA and Clean Air Act isn’t a left-right issue.  Both the EPA and CAA enjoyed the strongest bipartisan support, and only a fringe group on the far-right wanted to gut the CAA and shutter the EPA.  Yes, a fringe group has essentially taken control of the GOP, but the protection of clean air and clean water and the health and well-being of our children remained a hard-core centrist issue.  It always has been.

Second, the ad is directed not just at one vote on gutting the EPA’s CAA authority concerning greenhouse gases, but the right’s whole assault on the EPA’s budget and its science-based standards:

Save the EPA.  Save our kids!

19 Responses to Save the EPA. Save our kids.

  1. Richard Brenne says:


  2. Wes Rolley says:

    The fight never ends. Just before Earth Day 2003, Pete McCloskey, Gaylord Nelson, Denis Hayes and Stewart Udall tried to re-ignite the fire.

    A letter sent March 17 to more than 4,000 student leaders urged them to help rebuild a constituency for the environment. It suggests organizing events in their schools and communities, and sending a delegate to a national student conference on politics and the environment in September.

    Despite war, the sour economy, and threats of terrorism, the letter said, “There is no more terrifying legacy than a changed climate or an epidemic of extinction.”

    The letter was signed by Mr. Nelson. Mr. McCloskey, Mr. (Dennis) Hayes (former Stanford student body president), and Stewart Udall, a former congressman and Department of the Interior secretary.

    A future dreamed but not yet realized.

  3. Nice report. Thanks

    But Joe this is a left/right issue when the honorable right wing cannot seem to stifle their whack-job libertarian branch that seems to hold forth with caveat emptor, laissez faire thinking. And that wing seems to fully fund and completely dominate the Republican party. What a pity.

    Their anti-government solution means that toxic pollution will be solved by the courts or not solved at all.

    I have not yet heard of a proposed alternative to the EPA. Have you?

    Time to strengthen the EPA, they hesitate too much. This should have been done decades ago.

  4. Wit's End says:

    “This morning when I first woke, I found outside my window yet one more late (and unwelcome!) blanket of snow. I wondered as I often do, when I contemplate another day surviving cognitive dissonance – what distinguishes the relatively few people like me, who are acutely and painfully aware of the impossibility that human civilization can continue on a path remotely resembling the recent past – from most everybody else? I wonder if there is any way to help ease the transition and shock for those masses who are mesmerized by the gossip about teevee stars, and their own quotidian, enveloped in their blissful, temporary, ignorance. Most especially, I worry about saving my own children.”

  5. 350 Now says:

    Re Richard @#3: Proposed alternative to the EPA – Pukey Newt is advocating for an “Environmental Solutions Agency” window dressing post budget gutting, I suppose. (This rose by any other name would still smell pukey…)

    By the way, Richard, thank you for your thoughtful posts. I especially look forward to yours, Richard Brenne’s, Paulm’s, Joe’s and a few others since I began following this blog. I appreciate the time and care reflected in your discussions.

  6. Richard Brenne says:

    Wit’s End (#4) – I’m with you again (see my response to your rationing comment at #13 in the post “Japan reactor core may be taking a leak” just below). Maybe we also need to save someone else’s children, treating them as our own.

    Family and children are Earth’s greatest treasures, but thinking our family ends with our brood of blood relatives is maybe the biggest part of the Tragedy of the Commons, and what the genius of the Godfather movies depicts as an ultimate tragedy. In this ultimate tragedy we each think that only our family matters and so most of us have jobs that are cogs in the wheel of our own destruction to support our families first and foremost (and to not have our spouses yell at us for not earning enough).

    I don’t think you do this personally because you show as much caring as anyone I’ve ever met, but I do think that generally we’re all here to learn that everyone and everything is our family as well, and I was just reminded of that.

    And I think about saving my daughter all the time, although her saving me seems more likely, since she already has in a very dramatic story I’ll share someday.

  7. 350 Now says:

    Canada Government Toppled After Opposition Pressure:

    Quote: “He (Harper) has called Canada an emerging “energy super power” in reference to Alberta’s oil sands deposits, the second largest oil reserves in the world, and has avoided enacting environmental legislation that would hurt the sector.”

  8. Tim says:

    Of course this is a left-right issue, it is just that a lot Americans who vote Republican seem to be clueless about just how far right the GOP is now. Consider, for example, the Wisconsin math teacher who is just now waking up to the real Scott Walker:

    High school math teacher Ronn Blaha, 41, said he felt like a “punch-drunk boxer,” taking one hit after another from the community because Walker had completely vilified the entire teaching profession.

    “I voted for him because I wanted some restraint on frivolous spending,” Blaha told The Associated Press, adding that he now regrets his vote. “I did not anticipate that he considered education a frivolity.”

    Of course he considers education a “frivolity” – first he rammed tax cuts through for the rich, then he declared a budget crisis, then he (and the entire right-wing media – on cue) began demonizing teachers. The problem the left has is that there is no party which will consistently represent the interests of anyone but the rich. The unions in Wisconsin asked Joe Biden to make an appearance, Biden asked for an OK from the White House, and he was told not to go.

  9. Jakob Wranne says:

    It’s frightening.

    What is happening?

    This is a harsh question, but it has to be asked :

    A friend, combining this with the GOP urge to defund public service, spontanteously asks: “What then, is the difference, between the US and any dictatorship?”

  10. Jakob Wranne says:

    PS. It is a harsh question, it’s meant to open a door for discussion.

    It’s not, not, not meant as an insult.

    I had to explain that. DS

  11. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    I’m afraid that the people who run this planet, which includes these political desperadoes and their business owners, care as little for the young, or the unborn or the yet to be conceived as they do for the rest. They not only do not care what harm befalls the young as they pursue their own obsession, greedy accumulation, they do not even care what happens to their own offspring. Quite a few, the more floridly insane and wicked, do it quite consciously, the rest unconsciously because they simply repress the bad news, lest they lose their efficacy as high-level predators, and fall back into the mob of ‘little people’.
    I never really got over the realisation that every single day, as the sublime market capitalist system wove its magic, as the stock indices soared, as wealth burgeoned, as the numbers of that paragon of paragons, the billionaire, swelled, as entrepreneurs ceaselessly ‘pushed the envelope’ of ‘wealth creation’, tens of thousands of children under five died needlessly of diarrheal disease, measles, malaria etc. With a tiny effort, 90% could be saved. But it never materialises. As the daemons who control our ‘demon-cracy’ spend two TRILLION every year on the means to murder, maim and intimidate, the tiny coffins pile up, and the mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins all bewail the loss, to absolutely no avail.
    From my experience of humanity, 90% or so of people think this is bad. 9%, roughly, couldn’t give a stuff, if they’re doing well, materially speaking, And 1%, at a guess, those who profit from this system, are quite satisfied, The psychopathic elite really does hate the rest of humanity, and one and another, too. As long as they control things, inequality will grow, ecological destruction will hasten us to our doom, and little children will die, needlessly, in their millions. Indeed, unless the psychotic elite is removed from power, not only will our species disappear, but we will, on balance, despite the good in the hearts of so many, deserve it, and the cosmos will not miss us.

  12. beesaman says:

    The danger here is in the connection of dangerous toxins with carbon dioxide, a pollutant. For example, if the climate does swing back to a cooler period, even if only for a short while. One risks losing the support of a population that does wish to see arsenic, mercury, lead and other toxins regulated.

    [JR: EPA defends us from them all. And don’t worry about that “swing” — ain’t gonna happen, sadly.]

  13. beesaman says:

    EPA doesn’t defend me from any of them as I do not live in the USA!
    We have our own clean air act and our own environmental protection laws, one must be a little less UScentric when talking about the environment. Not all of us want to or need to, take the lead (not the Pb variety!) from the USA!

  14. Joan Savage says:

    This is excruciating. I brought up my two children hundreds of miles downwind of the Midwest’s coal-fired factories and a few miles from some in our area. Our state (New York) has long had a state-wide health advisory limiting the eating of ANY locally caught fish due to the presence of mercury in fish tissue. The precipitation of air-borne mercury into the watersheds has contaminated fish throughout the region, inland here, and in the sea (remember?). The advisory against eating too much tuna came out when I was pregnant with my first child, who will turn thirty this year. The more stringent EPA rules should (must!) stop new onslaughts of heavy metals from the factories and power plants up-wind of anyone, yet it will take years for the mercury to sequester into sediments, and the mercury levels in fish tissue to drop to safer levels. I yearn to see some assurance that anyone’s grandchildren and the generations beyond might catch and safely eat wild-caught fish.

    “How many years can a mountain exist before it is washed to the sea?”- Bob Dylan

  15. Joan Savage says:

    Technical ability to identify the mercury isotope “fingerprints” in coal is improving. Abstract for the following is available through PubMed:

    Lefticariu L, Blum JD, Gleason JD.
    Environ Sci Technol. 2011 Jan 11. [Epub ahead of print]
    Mercury Isotopic Evidence for Multiple Mercury Sources in Coal from the Illinois Basin.

  16. BBHY says:

    That’s a pretty good ad. I still remember when I was a kid watching the news on TV showing burning rivers and brown air. That was powerful stuff and probably put me on the environmental path for the rest of my life.

    Unfortunately the environmental problems of today, mercury and other toxins, carbon dioxide levels, radioactive materials, etc. are largely invisible, so it is much harder to get public support behind the EPA.

  17. @#13 beesaman

    If you think you can escape U.S. emissions or Chinese emissions anywhere in the world, you are mistaken. This is at the heart of the #15 post by Joan Savage. Emissions from China have been detected in Los Angeles by isotopic means, and vice versa.

    Add to this the fact that CO2 does not respect borders and you have a situation in which there is no escaping global cooperation in our preservation or destruction. This is similar to the Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) logic of the cold war.

    Examples of success in this arena are the Montreal Protocols (initiated in 1987 under Reagan) and international Acid Rain agreements, which set the template for action and success in controlling pollutants globally and internationally, respectively. The mechanism chosen by the Reagan Administration to control CFCs and SOx and cause the U.S. to comply with international treaties was cap and trade. These same mechanisms have succeeded in regional cap and trade initiatives in southern Calif basin to control smog constituents, RGGI for GHGs, and soon in a California GHG cap and trade market. The midwestern states and Canadian Provinces cooperated in establishing another market which will begin trading soon. These regional actions have global effect on CO2 emissions.

  18. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Tim #8, the plutocrats and neo-feudal masters have a strong ally in the complacency and stupidity of the masses. I find it almost impossible to imagine a ‘teacher’ so ignorant of the basics of history and the behaviour of predatory elites not to realise just what is unfolding, and what is to come. After all US median wages have stagnated for forty years, debt has risen, and unions have been liquidated, while the rich have pulled off the greatest transfer of wealth, from the rest to themselves, in history. How in blazes could he not be aware of this? The answer of course is ‘divide and rule’. Mr Blaha was all in favour of cutting ‘frivolous spending’, in my opinion a euphemism for ‘money spent on other people’, but when it turned out that he, too, was a target, he get’s a little pissed off. Dividing society into a mass of competing, atomised, utterly self-interested loners is market capitalism’s greatest triumph in projecting the mean, inhuman and amoral psychology of the parasitic class onto the rest of humanity, and its catastrophic consequences will probably prove fatal to our species. The ‘every man for himself and the Devil take the hindmost’ phase is upon us, the bellum omnium contra omnes, and the masters have long planned this. Just like the situation in all the countries where they have fomented civil war to divide and rule, so too are those tactics emerging in the ‘homeland’.

  19. adelady says:

    mulga, I’m beginning to suspect that ‘frivolous spending’ is used so often (by proponents of cutting public expenditures rather than restoring corporate tax obligations to more reasonable levels) because it’s part of a parcel of themes and memes emanating from common sources. If you check out the original scholarly research item on this recently started blog, you’ll see it’s not just “the sublime market capitalist system”.