Two weeks into the government shutdown, Republicans on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee already have their silver lining to the crisis. On Tuesday, the GOP minority on the committee, led by Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) published “The Top Ten Reasons The Government Shutdown Isn’t All Bad.”
Most of the list mocks the EPA’s inability to enforce Clean Water Act standards and oversee mining and drilling safety, because the agency has been forced to furlough 90 percent or 15,000 of its workforce. The listicle says to be glad that, “Fewer bureaucrats at the EPA makes it less likely that they’ll make up science on new regulations,” and that “World War II veterans have stormed the Normandy beaches again. (Sadly, they had to, in order to gain access to their own memorial).” Sen. Vitter’s list also says it’s good news that EPA workers can’t carry out established laws like the Clean Water Act or raid mines that allegedly violate it, that the Interior Department can’t review permits for oil production, and oil and gas drillers can continue on the public lands closed to the public.
Because Republicans would actually like to see many of these things — like new carbon regulations on coal plants — cut permanently, they’ve countered that piecemeal bills could replace a fully operational government. That would mean reopening politically popular programs, like the World War II veterans’ memorial, but make it impossible for food or water quality inspection or enforcing workplace safety in coal mines.
Republicans, like Rep. Steve Stockman (R-TX) and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), who’ve come to embrace post-sequestration spending are now also cheering the shutdown’s crippling effects. People in both red and blue states, near toxic sites or oil drilling would probably disagree that the shutdown has helped them. And with the shutdown wearing on, the Department of Energy, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission are also beginning to run out of money.