Decades of bipartisan advances on clean air and water at risk
U.S. Senator Richard Burr (R-North Carolina) introduced a bill that would consolidate the Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency into a single, new agency called the Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE). The bill would provide cost savings by combining duplicative functions while improving the administration of energy and environmental policies by ensuring a coordinated approach.
This move by Burr — with 15 GOP climate zombie cosponsors — is aimed at undermining science-based standards that protect our clean air and clean water. His press release quoted above is doubletalk.
I worked at the DOE for 5 years in the mid-1990s. I lived through the efforts of the Gingrich Congress to try to shut down the Department, and especially its clean energy programs. I also worked closely with EPA at that time. In fact DOE ended up hiring some EPA folks who wanted to work on pollution prevention and clean energy.
So I can state with a great deal of confidence that DOE and EPA are utterly different agencies that have no meaningful duplicative functions. Yes, they both have a General Counsel’s office, for instance — but DOEE would still need the lawyers from both EPA and DOE since they do completely different things and require completely different sets of expertise. What this would allow the GOP to do is to cut the combined operations budget and staffing, thereby crippling both agencies, all in the name of “streamlining.”
Equally important, this would remove a voice from the Cabinet meetings– either a Lisa Jackson or Steven Chu. These meetings are already dominated by economic agencies or those who don’t have either an environmental or clean energy expertise.
Also, combining a regulatory agency with an agency that advocates for and serves the need of those regulated industries is widely seen as a disastrously bad idea. Indeed, that mistake helped lead to the BP oil disaster. As the NY Times reported one year ago in its piece, “Interior Unveils Plan to Split MMS Into 3 Agencies“: