Hey Mr. Green,
I hear that the U.S. House of Representatives is considering a bill that will do big-time damage to the EPA’s ability to protect the environment. What’s the deal? —Mel, in Ames, Iowa
The deal is bad, extremely bad. Treacherous enough that Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune calls it “one of the most devastating pieces of legislation to America's environmental legacy ever.” The official name is “H.R. 2584: Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act,” sponsored by Michael Simpson (R-Idaho). My advice is to call your congressional representative right away—click here to get the phone number—and urge him or her to oppose it.
Why? For starters, by drastically slashing EPA funds this legislation would prevent the agency from reducing water pollution and from cutting other toxic emissions, including mercury (If you been following this blog you know about the dangers of mercury, and if you don’t, zip up above and search). This proposal, which cuts EPA’s budget by 18 percent, would also allow oil companies to avoid clean air standards for offshore drilling, while limiting EPA’s ability to protect national parks and wildlife refuges. In a crowning, almost nihilistic gesture, it would allow uranium prospecting near the Grand Canyon. (How about that, folks? Geiger counters and lead lined tents as the new trends in camping gear.)
The bill’s backers justify this literally scorched-earth policy with shopworn arguments about how environmental regulations have wrecked the economy, a laughable twist when everybody knows that the economy was not wrecked by environmental regulation, but by drastic economic deregulation.
Finally, if your congress person is a Republican, you might remind him or her that it was a Republican, Richard M. Nixon, who created the EPA, and that you would really, really hate to see it destroyed by Republicans. Because make no mistake, if the anti-environment crowd has serious success in weakening the EPA, it could be just their first step in turning our land and water over to industries that would dearly love to plunder it.