The 112th House of Representatives Is the Most Anti-Environment House in American History
"The big thing we are working on now is the global warming hoax. It's all voodoo, nonsense, hokum, a hoax." -- Rep. Michele Bachmann
Last week, the Minority Staff of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce released a document entitled "The Anti-Environment Record of the U.S. House of Representatives 112th Congress, 1st Session," which was prepared at the request of ranking minority members Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.), Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Howard L. Berman (D-Calif.).
"The House of Representatives in 2011 is the most anti-environment House in the history of Congress," asserts the report, which found that more than a fifth of the 770 legislative roll call votes were votes to weaken environmental protection. And being green generally split the body across party lines. During those calls, 94 percent of Republicans voted for the anti-environment position, while 86 percent of Democrats voted for the pro-environment position.
"The House Republican assault on the environment has been reckless and relentless," said Rep. Waxman, Ranking Minority Member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, in a statement. "In bill after bill, for one industry after another, the House has been voting to roll back environmental laws and endanger public health."
THE GOP MANDATE: PUTTING PROFITS OVER PUBLIC HEALTH
In September, Waxman unveiled a searchable database that details the votes taken to date by the 112th Congress that undermine environmental protection. A recent sampling:
Votes to weaken Environmental Protection Agency: 114
Votes to weaken Interior Department: 35
Votes to weaken Energy Department: 31
Votes to dismantle the Clean Air Act: 77
Votes to dismantle the Clean Water Act: 28
Votes to dismantle the National Environment Policy Act: 18
Votes to block anti-pollution actions: 84
Votes to defund or repeal clean energy initiatives: 26
Votes to block climate change actions: 27
Votes to weaken protection of public land and coasts: 20
FOR POLLUTING COMPANIES, CHRISTMAS CAME EARLY
"House Republicans didn't wait until Christmas to hand out gifts to polluting industries," said Rep. Markey, Ranking Minority Member of the Natural Resources Committee. "They've been doing it all year long, amassing the worst environmental record of any Congress in history...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. With that kind of cast, anti-environmental blockbusters will be the norm, sending more mercury into our kids, more air pollution into our lungs, and more carbon pollution into our atmosphere."
"Americans rely on our government to protect their families from the dangerous effects of pollution that can poison our air, water, and environment," said Rep. Berman, Ranking Minority Member of the Foreign Affairs Committee. "Sadly, Republicans in the House of Representatives have shown a clear pattern of putting business interests ahead of human interest -- of protecting corporate polluters over constituents. This report puts Americans on notice: we must continue to fight efforts to erode the laws that protect our health and wellbeing."
ET TU, SENATUS?
The Senate should prepare a similar document. On Saturday, the upper house voted 89-10 to extend the payroll tax cut by two months in a bill that includes a rider to accelerate the decision on the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, giving President Obama 60 days to decide on the project that, if approved, would undermine the president's call for investment in green energy.
"In hijacking the legislative process to advance Big Oil's top priority, Republican leaders in Congress have demonstrated once again that they value oil above all," said Gene Karpinski, president of the League of Conservation Voters (LCV), in a statement. However, Mr. Karpinsky sounded a hopeful note as well, saying, "We are confident President Obama will maintain his commitment to safeguarding our environment and public health by rejecting this dangerous tar sands pipeline, which is not in the national interest."
"The administration knows that Americans don't want that permit granted," said Bill McKibben, environmental activist and founder of 350.org, in an email. "They know because encircled the White House in November, and submitted more public comments than on any energy project in history, and because the climate movement flooded the White House switchboard with so many phone calls that the busy signal was the sound of the day."
Last month, the International Energy Agency warned that business-as-usual will lead the world to irreversible climate change in five years. And though the global call for action on climate change has been sounded for a long time, it is clear that the Republican party is not only ignoring that call, but rushing America, and the world, to the point of no return.
image: Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), a Republican presidential contender, has called global warming a âhoax.â In 2010, the League of Conservation Voters included Bachmann on their list of Congress's "Dirty Dozen" anti-environmentalists. (credit: Gage Skidmore, Flickr Creative Commons)