House Republicans waged systematic war against the environment this year, attacking environmental protection through climate denial, oil drilling, weakening public lands and water protection, and obstructing responsible regulation — just to name a few. In summation, a House Committee on Energy and Commerce minority report reveals that the House voted 191 times to undermine the protection of the environment, thus “amassing the worst environmental record of any Congress in history.”
Out of the 770 legislative roll call votes taken in the House this year, “more than one out of every five” were votes against the environment. Ninety-four percent of Republicans chose the anti-environment position on each vote. While the Environmental Protection Agency bore the brunt of the GOP’s enmity with 114 votes against it, the GOP managed to find 191 ways to damage the environment, including:
— 27 votes to block action to address climate change, including votes to overturn EPA’s scientific findings that climate change endangers human health and welfare; to block EPA from regulating carbon pollution from power plants, oil refineries, and vehicles; to prevent the United States from participating in international climate negotiations; and even to cut funding for basic climate science..
— 77 votes to undermine Clean Air Act protections, including votes to repeal the health-based standards that are the heart of the Clean Air Act and to block EPA regulation of toxic mercury and other harmful emissions from power plants, incinerators, industrial boilers, cement plants, and mining operations.
— 28 votes to undermine Clean Water Act protections, including votes to strip EPA of authority to set water quality standards and enforce limits on industrial discharges; to repeal EPA’s authority to stop mountaintop removal mining disposal; and to block EPA from protecting headwaters and wetlands that flow into navigable waters.
— 47 votes to weaken protection of public lands and coastal waters, including votes to curtail environmental review of offshore drilling; to halt reviews of public lands for possible wilderness designations; and to remove protections for salmon, wolves, and other species.
As the report notes, the GOP “also voted to allow unsafe disposal of toxic coal ash; to short-circuit environmental review of the Keystone XL pipeline; to erect barriers to promulgation of new regulations that protect health and the environment; and to cut funding for environmental protection.” In fact, Republicans voted to slash funding for the Department of Energy, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission by more than 80 percent by 2020.
As 2011 comes to a close, it appears that Republicans are only gaining steam. The House GOP attached the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline and Boiler MACT reversal as poison pills to the payroll tax cut package. If 2011 is any measure, Republicans are set to keep making anti-environment history in 2012.
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