In a stunningly heartless move, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) put strings on emergency relief for the victims of the killer Joplin tornado, saying that other government services would have to be cut to offset aid spending. Yesterday afternoon, the House Appropriations committee passed an amendment by Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-AL) to add $1 billion in funding for the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) disaster relief fund, offset by funding reductions from the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Loan Program at the Department of Energy. Instead of cutting oil subsidies to pay for the costs of our nation’s increasing climate disasters, the GOP is actually working to increase our dependence on fossil fuels. On MSNBC’s Ed Show, Rep. Russ Carnahan (D-MO) called the decision “just plain wrong”:
When you talk about cutting clean energy programs versus cutting subsidies for big oil, let’s have that debate here in Washington. But not on the backs of the people of Joplin.
Furthermore, the disaster relief package only makes up for other draconian cuts Republicans made to disaster aid and firefighter assistance grants, which mean that “FEMA state and local programs would be reduced by 55 percent compared to levels for fiscal 2011, and by 70 percent compared to fiscal 2010.”
The deadliest twister in U.S. history since 1947 is the latest multi-billion-dollar climate disaster in this season of unprecedented death and destruction. Scientists have warned for decades that our climate system would grow deadlier as greenhouse pollution from coal and oil increases, with greater floods, heat waves, droughts, wildfires, and storms. Instead of responding to reality by mobilizing our nation to protect people from climate disasters and build a resilient, green economy, Republicans are keeping us tethered to big oil.
“It is staggeringly shortsighted to pay for the economic losses of climate disasters by choking off funding for policies that reduce the threat of future climate disasters,” says Bracken Hendricks, senior fellow at the Center for American Progress. “The Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Loan Program is helping US companies right now, to remain competitive and protect good manufacturing jobs, by producing highly efficient vehicles that cut dependence on foreign oil. What’s next? Should we cut funding for flood insurance and slash the FEMA budget to pay for flood damage along the Mississippi?”