Carl Hiaasen: GOP Attacks on EPA Ignore the Probem, “Nothing Kills Jobs Like an Environmental Catastrophe”

Dutifully following their Tea Party scripts, most of the Republican presidential candidates have declared war on the Environmental Protection Agency. They claim that the economy is being smothered by regulations designed to keep our air and water safe.No iota of evidence is being offered, and in fact the record profits of big energy companies indicate a spectacular lack of suffering.

But listen to Rep. Michele Bachmann’s promise to an Iowa crowd about one of her first presidential priorities: “I guarantee you the EPA will have doors locked and lights turned off, and they will only be about conservation. It will be a new day and a new sheriff in Washington, D.C.”

Granted, Bachmann is a witless parrot who has no chance — absolutely zero — of being elected to the White House. But her hatred of the EPA is shared by Gov. Rick Perry of Texas, who is considered a GOP frontrunner.

Like Bachmann, Perry refuses to accept that global warming is real. He launched a lawsuit to stop the EPA from enacting rules to limit greenhouse gasses from oil refineries, power plants and other industrial sources.

Perry likes to whine that “EPA regulations are killing jobs all across America,” a statement that draws more cheers in his native state than in the rest of the country. In fact, polls show that a large majority of Americans are worried about air and water pollution, and hold a positive view of the EPA.

Nothing kills jobs like an environmental catastrophe, as the Gulf Coast gravely experienced during (and after) the BP oil spill last year. The true cost of that accident to the economies of Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi and Florida is probably incalculable, although surely many billions of dollars were lost.

The cleanup wasn’t perfect, but it’s absurd to think that BP would have worked faster or more efficiently if the Obama administration and the EPA hadn’t been leaning on the company, both publicly and behind closed doors.

That’s best-selling author and former investigative journalist Carl Hiaasen writing in the Miami Herald.  Here’s more:

Forty-one years ago the agency was formed, and for good reason: Toxins by the ton were being flagrantly pumped into this country’s rivers, bays and oceans, and blown through smokestacks into the air. People were getting sick and dying only because some companies were too greedy to spend money cleaning up their own mess.

The corporate mentality toward pollution has changed because the alternatives are heavy fines, criminal penalties and savage publicity. A reminder of why we still need the EPA was last month’s oil spill on the Yellowstone River, which affected ranchers, farmers, fishing guides and rafting companies. It also occurred seven months after Exxon Mobil insisted that its pipeline would never rupture because it was buried too deep.

Of all the reasons government exists, none is more crucial than trying to keep its citizens safe, whether from a terrorist attack, Wall Street’s recklessness or industrial poisoning.

Not surprisingly, surveys show that most Americans want their children to grow up drinking clean water and breathing clean air. How, then, to explain the radical hostility of Bachmann, Perry, Newt Gingrich and some of the other Republican candidates?

First, it’s about raising money. The petroleum and coal conglomerates are huge GOP donors, and they’d love to have a president who would gut the EPA.

Second, it’s about politics. To win Republican primaries — the theory goes — a candidate must fire up the Wingnut Right. The easiest way to do that is to brainlessly bash whatever government does.

Perry specializes in this, even though almost half of Texas’ vaunted employment growth has been in the public sector — government jobs, in other words. You won’t hear the governor complain about the $200 billion that U.S. taxpayers pump into his state’s economy annually for military bases and related industries.

One thing to emerge from the Republicans’ attacks on the EPA is the early campaign path of Mitt Romney. Clearly, his strategy is to appear less loony and misinformed than his rivals.

Romney says the EPA has an important role, and furthermore he has actually conceded that global warming is a fact. As governor of Massachusetts, Romney expressed interest in a carbon cap-and-trade program, and proposed a plan to cut back on greenhouse gas emissions.

Predictably, with the primaries looming, Romney now says he opposes regulating carbon dioxide and other gases linked to climate change. As he and the other GOP candidates begin piling into Florida for the long campaign, pay attention to their rhetoric about the dreaded EPA.

The economy here would crumble if the environment was left unprotected. Florida can’t survive without tourism, and tourism dies when tar balls and rotting fish turn up on the beach.

What remains of the long-polluted Everglades would also be doomed without a federal regulatory presence, however cumbersome. Doomed, too, would be South Florida’s chief source of fresh water, upon which business growth depends — not to mention the future of about eight million people.

Yet don’t be surprised if Perry and Bachmann arrive here clinging to the Tea Party narrative that government oversight is inherently evil. They’d like us to kindly forget about that little mishap in the Gulf of Mexico last year, and other manmade though preventable disasters.

It’s easier to ignore the past and stick to the script, especially if someone else is writing it.

14 Responses to Carl Hiaasen: GOP Attacks on EPA Ignore the Probem, “Nothing Kills Jobs Like an Environmental Catastrophe”

  1. Colorado Bob says:

    OMAHA, Neb. — Heavy rain earlier this week took out four pumping stations working to keep water out of the city. That puts Omaha’s bill in the fight against the flood at more than $10 million.

    Three million gallons of raw sewage is streaming into the Missouri River each day because of the issue. It adds to another six million gallons going untreated every day since a station went out in June.

    “We’re talking about tens or maybe hundreds of thousands of dollars in repairs just due to this one storm,” Marty Grate said.

    Read more:

  2. Colorado Bob says:

    Drink-up Kansas City, Rick Perry says the water is swell.

  3. Tim says:

    GOP + FOX = Giant People Killing Machine

  4. Leif says:

    “Nothing kills jobs like an environmental catastrophe…” Say that again…slowly.
    In addition the flurry of jobs that are created, cleaning up and repairing, is money that could/should/must be going toward long term social improvement. Education and health, robust infrastructure, and yes, renewable energy so the Nation can move to keep our dollars within the communities and not into the pockets of the rich or foreign dictators. Who deserves your earnings more, you or them?

    My two month old solar PV has produced enough free electricity for my home plus one more month in the bank. In the Pacific NW!

  5. Tim says:


    I’m not sure precisely what you meant by this: “My two month old solar PV has produced enough free electricity for my home plus one more month in the bank.” Does that mean you’re getting enough power for two homes? Or…?

  6. Leif says:

    In two months I have produced over 600 kWh and my normal home summer consumption is less than 200kWh/month. I am “grid tied” so the power company gives me a credit which I can draw on as the days get shorter and cloudier and I consume more as I heat with electricity, (Also green, as I pay a wind premium.) It must be pointed out that my home uses far less power that the “normal” US home. (The cheapest and greenest kW is the one you do not use.) However visitors to my home often comment how comfortable it is. I have no storage ability and if the grid goes down, (rarely around here,) my PV goes down as well. Power companies like that as there is no stray 220 voltage feed-in if they need to work on downed lines. solar

  7. Shaheer says:

    These people KNOW climate change is happening and is severe.

    However they are committed to their free market fundamentalist religion. They probably want to see nature or “God” kill the unbelievers and believe “Technology” or a “Man in the Sky” will swoop down and save them at the last moment.

    Don’t fool yourselves – they know it’s happening. They know dirty air is blocking global warming.

  8. Leif says:

    Question Joe: Why is there often a discrepancy between the number of comments shown on the “letter” icon (Currently 6 on my screen) and the number of letters posted? (currently 3, 5 if replies are counted. The other day icon showed 83 and comments 63.)

  9. Leif says:

    So Tim, yes, I am supplying power to the grid which is resold to the neighbors when I over produce. Technically only 1/2 a home like mine, as it took me two months to accumulate the power that I use in one month. The important point however is all the power was produced on my property and has real value to MY coffers and stays in my community. It is a “cash cow” that pays me ~10% RoI, (which includes a taxpayers funded “feed-in-tariff”, (thank you all) which we approved here in WA to jump start the Green infrastructure. Initial investments bring the cost down for others. Removing fossil subsidies would be a better source for the “feed-in-tariff” however IMO.

  10. Peter Sergienko says:

    This is lot of hand waiving that may excite some segments of the conservative base in the primaries, but I believe it’s ultimately a losing political strategy. In my experience ideology always gives way to expediency in a crisis. I’ve worked on cases involving EPA oversight of investigations/cleanups that have impacted small communities that are predominantly conservative politically. When you and your children face a health threat from an environmental problem and the EPA is your ally against a polluter, the EPA is suddenly your best friend, ideology be damned.

  11. CW says:


    I’ve been thinking that, in the event you haven’t done this and I somehow missed it, it might interesting to do an analysis of the resistors to action from the point of view of the “disaster capitalism” theory popularized (conceived?) by Naomi Klein. Meaning, are there those resisting action because they see profit and social engineering opportunities from increased disaster rates?

  12. Badgersouth says:

    “Why Rick Perry Would Put the World on a Fast Track to Total Meltdown: From calling the BP disaster an “act of god” to responding to his state’s drought with prayer, Perry’s anti-environmental resume is extensive.”

    To access this informative article by Tara Lohan posted (Aug 25)on Alternet, click here.

  13. Badgersouth says:

    Another article of note…

    “House Republicans Seek to Remove U.S. Funding for UN Climate Efforts: Their primary targets are the IPCC and UNFCCC, key programs designed to educate policymakers about climate science and slow warming worldwide.”
    by Elizabeth McGowan, SolveClimate News, Aug 26, 2011

    To access this in-depth article by Elizabeth McGowan, SolveClimate News, Aug 26, 2011, click here

  14. riverat says:


    Comments get numbered but replies don’t. The total includes the replies.