Three months after voting to eliminate funding for the Environmental Protection Agency, Rep. Lou Barletta (R-PA) now says he’s outraged that the EPA isn’t doing more to protect the health of residents in his district. Barletta is insisting that the agency pay special attention to an area in Pittson, PA, after one resident alleged that a tunnel near a Superfund site gave him cancer. The EPA held an open house and information session to address the concerns of residents in the area, but said it did not plan to conduct further testing. This outraged Barletta, who called their decision “unacceptable”:
On Wednesday, Barletta sent a letter to EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson asking the agency to perform additional testing in the Carroll/Mill Street neighborhood.[…]“Frankly, this is unacceptable. The EPA’s own Web site indicates that one of the agency’s primary reasons for existence is to ensure that ‘all Americans are protected from significant risks to human health and the environment where they live, learn and work.’”[…]
“I was surprised to hear an EPA official basically tell the residents of the Carroll/Mill neighborhood that they would not conduct soil and water testing to find answers. It is absolutely the EPA’s job, and I’m going to make sure that job is done. The residents are scared, and they deserve answers and peace of mind.”
That’s an ironic position for Barletta, considering how often he’s tried to prevent the EPA from doing its job. In February, Barletta voted with the rest of the Republican-controlled House for an amendment that slashed funding for the EPA. Republicans were retaliating against the agency for its efforts to regulate greenhouse-gas emissions. Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX), one of the authors of the amendment, said, “The era of EPA overstepping its authority by imposing over-burdensome and unnecessary regulations at the expense of American businesses is over.”
Barletta’s vote to gut funding for the EPA flew in the face of popular opinion in his own district. A survey by Public Policy Polling found that 70 percent of voters in Barletta’s 11th Congressional District opposed Barletta’s vote to block the EPA from setting limits for carbon dioxide pollution. Those opposed included 58 percent of independents and 53 percent of Republicans. Voters also opposed Barletta’s votes to “prevent the EPA from reducing arsenic, mercury and other toxic pollution from cement kilns, or from collecting any data about carbon and other pollutants.”
It’s pretty audacious to attack an agency for not doing enough mere months after attacking them for doing too much. Barletta should hope his constituents have short memories and forget his attempts to stop the EPA from upholding health standards that Republicans insisted were a “burden” to business.