Republican House of Representatives Put Profits over Public Health 191 Times and Counting

Republican House of Representatives Put Profits over Public Health 191 Times and Counting

By Jackie Weidman

To no one’s surprise, the new Republican-led House of Representatives has proven to be the most anti-environmental in the history of Congress.  Representatives Henry Waxman (D-CA), Edward Markey (D-MA), and Howard Berman (D-CA) released “The Anti-Environment Record of the U.S. House of Representatives 112th Congress, 1st Session,” detailing the many recorded anti-environmental votes that members of the House took this year.

As of December 15, 2011, the House voted a record 191 times on bills or amendments that would undermine public health or environmental safeguards.  The House Republicans averaged more than one anti-environmental vote for every day that the House was in session – a total of 165 days in 2011.   These reckless proposals attempt to dismantle clean air and clean water safeguards, stop protection for some of our last wild places, and make it easier for big energy companies to  drill, mine and pollute.

As the report describes, the Environmental Protection Agency was the target of 114 – or three of every five  of these votes, while the Department of Interior and Department of Energy were targeted by 35 and 31 votes, respectively.

House Republicans voted to reduce the budget of the Environmental Protection Agency by nearly thirty cents for every dollar used for environmental protection. The Department of Energy’s investment in clean technologies — renewable energy and energy efficiency – was slashed by 35 percent in 2011.  The House also proposed to cut funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which acquires new lands for recreation and wildlife protection, by 78 percent in 2012.

Rep. Waxman noted that there is huge disconnect between the House Republicans’ agenda and the views of the American people.

“In bill after bill, for one industry after another, the House has been voting to roll back environmental laws and endanger public.  The Republican anti-environment agenda is completely out of touch with what the American public wants.”

Many Republican representatives also continue to vehemently deny the overwhelming scientific consensus that climate change is real and due to human use of fossil fuels.  The report found more than a dozen Republican House members made public statements that question or reject the scientific consensus on climate change.  Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) suggested that the cause of climate change “could just be a shift on the axis,” rather the increase in carbon dioxide pollution linked to climate change.

Representative John Shimkus (R-IL), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy, who dismissed dire warnings of climate scientists, and asserted that the Earth

“will end only when God declares it is time to be over with.  Man will not destroy this earth.  This earth will not be destroyed by a flood.”

This statement ironically  ignores the many record setting floods in the United States in 2011, including the deluge after Hurricane Irene, Mississippi River overflows, and Upper Midwest flooding –disasters that caused  over $1 billion each in damages.

Not only have House Republicans attempted to directly undermine environmental laws, they have multiple ways to do so.  In late November and Early December, House Republicans unanimously supported three bills, including the REINS act, that make the issuance of new health safety rules more difficult, if not impossible.  The bills would require agencies to use time-consuming quasi-judicial procedures to issue major rules, add over 60 new steps in the rulemaking process, and prevent the implementation of new safeguards without both House and Senate approval.

And the attacks haven’t stopped yet.  Just after midnight on December 15, Republican members of the House Appropriations Committee released their version of a bill to fund the Interior Department, Department of Energy, EPA, and related agencies for the rest of Fiscal Year 2012.  This bill included a handful of nasty policy riders that reward Big Oil and polluters, as Think Progress detailed this morning.  These riders include one to eliminate modern light bulb efficiency standards – signed into law by President George W. Bush.

Rep. Markey warns that “these votes are just a preview of coming attractions if the fossil fuel industries get their way and place more Republicans in Congress and the White House.”  Rep. Berman asserts that along with others in Congress, he will continue “calling for renewed effort to protect public health and the environment,” and urges that this report should alert Americans to do the same.

Jackie Weidman is a Special Assistant at the Center for American Progress.

3 Responses to Republican House of Representatives Put Profits over Public Health 191 Times and Counting

  1. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    If you imagine that it is simple service to the money power of polluting corporations in evidence here, I think that you have missed a crucial dimension. The Right hate other people and enjoy doing them harm. Simple as that. They may be dumb as jack-asses but they know that their actions will harm others (it’s not rocket surgery)but they DO NOT CARE. Indeed, they get off on it.
    I’m constantly bemused by the refusal or the inability of decent human beings, alarmed and dismayed at our terminal predicament, to acknowledge the root of all our evils. That is the fact that the capitalist system that controls humanity in its entirety, inescapably places in positions of power the most unscrupulous, the most egomaniacal, the most misanthropic and the most violent individuals. The Greeks called it kakistocracy, the rule of the worst. Simply do this test (I do it often). Try to think of truly admirable, sane, rational, humane individuals in your society who hold positions of power in politics, business and the media. In my experience the number has been falling for decades, and those that remain today are outnumbered ten or more to one by robopaths of varying degrees of malignancy. Unless capitalist kakistocracy goes, it’s only a matter of a brief interlude of time, a few decades I would say now, before humanity is ravaged, perhaps obliterated.

  2. Forest says:

    Within our species, we have the technology, resources and cognitive ability to restore our planet. The tipping point for attempting to put these in place will likely be quick, soon, and quite catastrophic. The biggest tipping points will be a lack of food brought on by floods, droughts, energy shortages and economic collapse. It will likely be be followed immediately by one or more pandemics. And then by much violence. Those who make it out of this mess will hopefully be able to pick up the pieces and start to build a sustainable environment from the few species left alive. Hopefully by then, we won’t have reached 4 or more degrees. Or,we could start now with massive “occupy wall street” endeavors centered on the environment. We could start with the majority of climate scientists followed by the majority of scientists; then those who hope for a future for their children. We do not want to be on the side of the fence asserting “let them eat cake”; at least not for long.

  3. J4zonian says:

    “This earth will not be destroyed by a flood.”

    I think Mr. Shimkus is quite correct here. The promise is: “The fire next time”* and man is not destroying the Earth. Humans of both genders are destroying civilization, possibly the human and many other species, possibly even that cybernetic system of self-perpetuating life we call Gaia. The Earth will remain.

    It may be a lifeless hunk of rock, but it will still be here. Well, not here exactly but somewhere.

    Chalk one up for Rep. Shimkus’ fact checkers.

    * “God gave Noah the rainbow sign, no more water the fire next time.” “Mary Don’t You Weep” http://www.brucespringsteen. net/Seeger_Marsh_notes.pdf