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June 26, 2014

A Tale of Two Policies: House GOP Launches 500th Attack on Environment As President Celebrates Climate Action Anniversary

Barack_Obama_at_Las_Vegas_Presidential_Forum

President Obama (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

This week marks the one year anniversary of President Barack Obama’s historic speech at Georgetown University, where he outlined his ambitious plan to tackle the climate crisis.

Since the speech, the Obama administration has done more than just talk, making climate action a priority. These actions culminated in the recent release of the EPA’s new Clean Power Plan. Centered around new standards that will clean up carbon pollution from power plants for the first time, the plan is expected to reduce climate disrupting carbon pollution by 30% within the next 15 years. The plan will also improve the quality of the air we breathe by reducing the emission of pollutants that create soot and smog by 25%, curbing the pollution that sickens children and seniors, resulting in 150,000 fewer asthma attacks, 3,300 fewer heart attacks, and 6,600 fewer premature deaths.  

And the plan makes economic sense too. By cleaning the air, the Clean Power Plan is expected to reduce healthcare costs and save families, on average, $8 on their monthly electricity bill. It will also create jobs by incentivizing investment into home-grown clean energy.

It's a hopeful sign coming from one part of Washington, but at the other end of the street, Republicans in the House of Representatives are making their own kind of history -- the kind we'd just as soon forget. 

Congressional Republicans remain obstinately opposed to common sense energy policies. Instead of working to clean the air we breathe and protect local communities from the ongoing climate crisis, House Republicans took their 500th vote to undermine the environment of the last four years. 

The most recent attacks on clean air and clean water were efforts to gut permitting requirements for pipelines and electrical grids and efforts to curtail the approval process for natural gas exports. But them come on the heels of literally hundreds upon hundreds of attacks on the safeguards that protect our air, our water, and our communities, assaults American clean energy jobs, and obstruction of any and all efforts to curb the climate crisis.

“The President and businesses across the nation are moving forward to confront the challenges of climate change, while House Republicans are trying to drive in reverse,” said Rep. Henry Waxman, who has been compiling this ignoble record in a database you can see here.

Congressional Republicans didn’t always stand so opposed to cleaning up our air and water. But they also hadn't always stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the same fossil fuel polluters who have been spending millions on their political campaigns. Now, they are spending more time pushing a dirty fuels agenda than actually proposing solutions to the myriad problems our country faces.

So, instead of doing anything substantive, Republicans will be taking their 500th vote to deny the existence of climate change and prevent action on the climate crisis - another pointless volley that will die as soon as it leaves the House. In contrast, President Obama is moving forward with the Clean Power Plan, acting to enforce the Clean Air Act -- legislation passed by the House back when it functioned as something other than a proxy for polluters.

--Michael Payne

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