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September 30, 2013

On the Eve of A Shutdown, Polluted Priorities Contaminate Boehner's House

There is no question about it -- a government shutdown would be a debacle for American families. But, Congressional Republicans are refusing to do even the most basic and routine aspect of their jobs -- namely, keeping the government operational -- without extreme political grandstanding that has brought us to the eve of the first government shutdown since 1996. This past weekend, all eyes were on Speaker John Boehner, with questions lingering as to whether he could carve out a deal with his own Republican colleagues to pass routine funding legislation without toxic political riders added on.

But, with the clock ticking and every minute a precious opportunity to negotiate, John Boehner wasn't in Washington working on a deal to prevent a shutdown -- instead, he was at the Greenbrier, a fancy hotel in West Virginia, dining with coal executives.

How's that for priorities?

Let's be clear about what the shutdown means. Hundreds of thousands of Americans, not just in Washington, D.C. but across the country, will be temporarily out of work. Our national parks will close -- to everyone but oil and gas drillers. The Environmental Protection Agency will effectively be shuttered, with 9 out of 10 employees furloughed, taking our clean air cops off the beat and leaving vulnerable Americans with almost no one to monitor pollution that could make them sick.

Maybe that’s why the coal industry was happy to host Boehner at a time when he could have been working to cut a deal: a government shutdown could mean that the floodgates will open for air pollution with few on the job to enforce critical public health and environmental safeguards.

On the eve of a government shutdown that would rattle the lives of millions of Americans, John Boehner wasn't working to corral his reckless caucus -- he was dining with coal executives. If you needed any more evidence that House Republicans put polluters before people, this is conclusive.

-- Melinda Pierce, Deputy Director of Federal Policy, Sierra Club


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