Thursday, April 7, 2011

GOP is Concerened About Spilled Milk guest article by Nicholas Scott


GOP Is Concerned About Spilled Milk
It comes as no surprise to see the GOP’s recently unveiled legislation proposing to strip the Environmental Protection Agency’s power over emission regulations. The proposal slices the EPA’s budget by 30% -- the largest cut to any agency. In addition, it restricts the EPA from regulating greenhouse gas emissions and from employing water pollution limits in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. This, of course, was but a small component of a much larger flank against the White House environmental and energy agenda that has been taking place recently.
The assault on energy took place on Capitol Hill last Thursday, bringing out the EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson to face the House Republicans for the first time since they had initially proposed to cut her budget. A battle took place in front of a House Appropriations subcommittee hearing, and some blows were exchanged. A variety of concerns were raised to Jackson, some going as far as asking whether the agency’s propsed climate rules  would regulate spilled milk. Republican Rep. Jeff Flake from Arizona made the underhanded comment, asking:
“How can the EPA promulgate new rules like this? What’s next – sippy –cups in the house cafeteria?”
Jackson replied:
“We made it clear in our rules that we were going to apply the rules to spilled milk.”
It is clear that the GOP has little concern for the risks posed by unregulated environmental toxins. A pertinent example of how such a lack of regard can result in tragedy can be seen from what occurred in Libby, Montana during the last ten years, where more than four hundred deaths have been attributed to mesothelioma, a rare lung cancer resulting from the exposure to environmental toxins. The EPA, responding to the absurdly high mortality rate, sent a team of scientists who discovered excessive evidence pointing to asbestos laced insulation being the direct cause of disease. With the mesothelioma life expectancy lasting no longer than fourteen months at most, it is quite disturbing to know the potential for devastation certain toxins have. 
Though asbestos is quite different from carbon emissions, they are both environmental toxins and the threat they pose, if unregulated, is undeniable. They are both silent killers that cause cancer slowly over time. Mesothelioma symptoms (and other lung disease) include coughing, shortness of breath, and chest heaviness. Because these symptoms are so similar to other common ailments, lung disease is often left undiagnosed until it is far too late.
Some Democrats have vowed to fight the efforts being made by the GOP to limit the agency’s authority. Rep. Norm Dicks, the democratic representative from Washington’s 6th congressional district, has made it his personal vendetta, stating:
“I’m going to fight every step of the way against efforts to weaken and take back the environmental improvements we’ve made.”
But despite the adamant response this legislation has received from the liberals; democrats themselves are not off the hook when it comes to the degradation of our environment. President Obama has proven to be a bit over zealous when it comes to “clean coal.” In 2009, the president proposed spending a $3.4 billion stimulus package on clean coal projects. Jeff Biggers of the Washington Post had this to say about clean coal:
"Never was there an oxymoron more insidious, or more dangerous to our public health [than clean coal, …Invoked as often by the Democratic presidential candidates as by the Republicans and by liberals and conservatives alike, this slogan has blindsided any meaningful progress toward a sustainable energy policy."
For Obama to champion clean coal makes him no better than the House GOP who is trying to ban the clean air act. This can further be seen in the way The Obama administration handled the crisis in the Gulf of Mexico. After disaster struck, the president was quick to point fingers at BP and the Minerals Management Service. But just two weeks before the Deepwater Horizon rig imploded, devastating the Gulf of Mexico, the president was quoted saying thing:
“It turns out, by the way, that oil rigs today generally don’t cause spills. They are technologically very advanced.”
Really? If Obama would have taken two minutes to research the subject, he could have found countless instances of recent oil rig leaks.
So where does that leave us?
On a dying planet, I guess.

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