CAP’s Jorge Madrid, in a WonkRoom cross-post.
Addressing the right-wing think tank American Action Forum last week, Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) praised the Environmental Protection Agency of previous generations, while condemning their current mission:
This is not your parents’ EPA. Your parents’ EPA was focused on obvious problems with clear solutions. This EPA is focused on murky problems with unclear solutions. Your parents’ EPA practiced what it preached. This EPA says one thing and does another. Your parents’ EPA focused on rebuilding the environment. This EPA is focused on remaking society. Your parents’ EPA applied the law evenly. This EPA skirts the law. Your parents’ EPA knew how to learn from its mistakes. This EPA is repeating them.
Barrasso’s unfounded attacks come with an attempt to re-write history, while denying the need for action in the present. “When the EPA got started,” Barrasso said, “environmental action was essential. Our country faced undeniable environmental disasters. Environmental disasters killed people and jobs with equal force.” Action then was “morally necessary,” he concluded.
In fact, Barrasso’s predecessors denied the “undeniable” environmental disasters of the past. In 1970 conservatives argued that enforcement of the Clean Air Act would “cause entire industries to collapse.” In 1975, they argued that “EPA’s power grab could easily spread to other activities: population control, complete regulation of all business.” In 1980, conservatives said the Clean Air Act would cause “a quiet death for business across the country.”
Barrasso is, of course, one of the top deniers of “undeniable” environmental disasters. He is ignoring last year’s explosion of the Deepwater Horizon, which killed 11 people and ruined the Gulf of Mexico with millions of barrels of toxic oil. He is also ignoring the pollution from coal-fired electricity that costs the United States between $175 billion and $523 billion every year in sickness and death. He denies the imminent threat of climate change from burning fossil fuels that puts civilization at risk and is already exacerbating bouts of extreme weather throughout the nation.
Apparently Barrasso thinks that 159 million Americans living in areas that violate clean air health standards does not constitute a moral necessity. Perhaps he should be reminded that 8.5 percent of all American children suffer from asthma; or that every day in America, 30,000 people have an asthma attack, 5,000 people visit the emergency room due to asthma (and 11 people die every day) – according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.
Barrasso said that this is not our parents’ EPA. What he and his conservative colleagues in Congress fail to realize that this is our children’s EPA. The Environmental Protection Agency is protecting all Americans “” most especially future generations “” from costly damages and deadly harm.
— Jorge Madrid, a CAP Research Associate, in a WR cross-post