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“:
In response to the Gulf of Mexico disaster, the federal agency that oversees offshore drilling will be split into three divisions to separate its energy development, enforcement and revenue collecting functions.
The three jobs currently performed by the Minerals Management Service, which collects $13 billion in revenue every year, “are conflicting missions and must be separated,” Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said today.
So, no, it would be a bad idea to merge EPA with any other department.
Obviously the Senate GOP is uninterested in actual environmental protection and have consistently voted against clean energy, so the notion that they are doing this to improve energy and environmental policies is laughable. Brad Johnson notes how far the GOP has shifted from the days when environmental protection was bipartisan:
Senate Republicans have introduced legislation to abolish the Environmental Protection Agency, established 40 years ago by President Richard Nixon to give Americans clean air and water….
In January, former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich proposed abolishing the EPA, and several House Republicans have supported that goal, while making numerous attempts to hamstring limits on industrial polluters.
Burr’s bill has fifteen co-sponsors, all of them global warming deniers: Jim DeMint (R-SC), Mike Enzi (R-WY), John Thune (R-SD), John McCain (R-AZ), Dan Coats (R-IN), Richard Shelby (R-AL), John Barrasso (R-WY), Roy Blunt (R-MO), John Boozman (R-AR), Thad Cochran (R-MS), Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), David Vitter (R-LA), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Ron Johnson (R-WI), Mike Lee (R-UT).
At least with this move to abolish EPA, the Senate GOP has made clear for all to see its anti-clean-air, anti-clean-water agenda.