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Senate Republicans introduce bill to abolish the EPA

By Joe Romm on May 6, 2011 at 8:59 pm

"Senate Republicans introduce bill to abolish the EPA"

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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.

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16 Responses to Senate Republicans introduce bill to abolish the EPA

  1. jimbobuddy says:

    The good news here is that the GOPers are, once again merely playing(games) to their base. This proposal has no chance of ever becoming reality. In fact, while Rep Burr may actually believe in the substance of this’plot’, this is an opportunity to hang this firmly around the GOP’s neck. At some point, so my faith in intelligence goes, the American people will wake up to how utterly corrupt and catastrophic the policies and philosophy of the Republican party are for democracy in America, and for the fate of the earth.

  2. Mark says:

    This would be like forming the ‘Department of Fast Food and Nutrition’. Consolidation does not improve efficiency, responsiveness or money. Look at the attempt to consolidate the intelligence agencies, and they all do similar things. To place two agencies with inherently conflicting responsibilities and objectives in one agency is to render both ineffective. The clear objective of this move is to limit the EPA’s ability to regulate CO2 under the Clean Air Act. The energy industry already received many environmental exemptions in 2003, they don’t need more.

  3. Mimikatz says:

    Ironic that Burr’s state of NC is particularly subject to extreme rainfall and hurricanes, both aggravated by global warming. These people know nothing, literally.

  4. Kasra says:

    I feel like climate change manifesting itself on the public can only shake up the political establishment in ways nobody has ever seen. Republicans have been pushing a false narrative in their attempts to defeat new energy and environmental protection. Democrats have pandered and focused on shaping these initiatives into a Republican narrative — “clean air and water will cut health costs and trim the deficit.” There has got to be a day of political reckoning somewhere on the horizon.

  5. jcwinnie says:

    Well, maybe I was wrong about their lack of foresight. Perhaps, they already know that the forces unleashed will destroy Life on the Planet as We know It, a.k.a., The Environment, so why pretend any longer to protect it?

  6. Aaron Lewis says:

    JR is modest.

    I was a pollution prevention coordinator for a contractor on the Handford cleanup (USDOE-RL). In the mid 1990s, DOE became an advocate for waste minimization. It was a radical policy change, and it was done in a very smart way. (JR’s group funded me for 4 hours per week for almost a year.) DOE took tools developed by the EPA and adapted them to the needs of DOE and its clients. The programs at DOE and EPA had similar names, but they did not overlap. EPA and DOE both have an interest in energy efficiency, but they work together so closely that there is limited over overlap.

    DOE has arms that still advocate for oil, gas, and coal. These should be amputated. I think Burr wants to avoid such cost cutting by hiding these legacy programs in a larger organization.

  7. Mike Roddy says:

    jimbobuddy- very cogent comment. The Republicans seem immune to the embarrassment of being proved wrong, but future political fallout from promoting pollution and slamming EPA could be quite interesting.

    Aaron Lewis- Thanks for the background. Please tell us more about the inner workings of DOE. I’ve dealt with them during research, mostly through EIA personnel, and found them very reluctant to go outside business as usual. For example, their up to 2030 projections assume continued market domination of coal and gas, with very slow market penetration by renewables. In this situation, it makes no sense to predict the future based on the past- kind of like predicting horse and buggy market share in 1920 in 1900.

  8. John Hollenberg says:

    Looks like the GOBP is going to continue shooting themselves in the foot with these stupid proposals. How’s that Medicare voucher thing workin out for ya?

  9. John Fugett says:

    One would hope this type of move by the republican congress will backfire at the next election. Just like attacking medicare is beginning to backfire, most Americans are pro-environment at their core.

  10. Greg says:

    I propose combining the States of Indiana and Ohio. Both serve the same basic agricultural functions with a limited industrial base.

    I also propose combining Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia–all three with similar populations and like views.

    I further propose combining the states of Utah and Arizona–two desert states with similar industries.

    Combining those states would provide cost savings as the Congressional staffs for those states would be reduced 8 senators and a number of House seats.

    It’s really not to hurt the representation of those states. It’s just in the Union’s best interests.

  11. John Hollenberg says:

    > Combining those states would provide cost savings as the Congressional staffs for those states would be reduced 8 senators and a number of House seats.

    One small correction to your idea–since House seats are based on population, that number wouldn’t change. Otherwise, an outstanding idea I haven’t ever seen proposed. Do you think you can get a senator to introduce this as a bill? :-)

  12. Mike Roddy says:

    Maybe we should ask that states’ national political representatives must desist from working for the oil companies instead of their constituents. If they decline, they should be given a time out from Congressional voting privileges. If we’d done that to South Carolina and Mississippi in 1860, we might have avoided the Civil War.

  13. Michael says:

    Why not really streamline the government and just have two departments: the “Dept of the Interior” that manages the domestic stuff and a “Department of War” that manages everything else?

    Of eliminate the State Department and simply combine it with the Defense Dept? After all, War is simply diplomacy by other means.

    The stupidity that passes for thought is astounding.

  14. Bill Bush says:

    Since the republicans, it seems, want to abolish everything why don’t start by abolishing themselves?

  15. PWL says:

    Y’know, whoever dubbed Modern Man “Homo Sapiens” (Wise Man) got it wrong.

    It’s fascinating to watch these Repubs working overtime to ensure that mankind will go the way of the dinosaur–just so their corporate owners can have fatter profits…

  16. I’ve worked in environmental health and EPA is extremely important to protection of the air and water and other areas. The department of Energy is just getting started good on renewable energy to move us ahead. KNOCK THIS DOWN SENATE DEMOCRATS AND CLEAR-THINKING REPUBLICANS OR PRESIDENT OBAMA IF IT GETS OUT. Clearnly there is a good chance to “clean house” of these non-caring for people Senators.