Year 2, Month 7, Day 14: Sustainable Exploitation Is The Way To Go!

The June 28 Times-Record (ME) has a good editorial, titled “What About High Cost Of Unhealthy Air?”

Yeah? What about it?

Actually, it isn’t “we, the people” who get stuck on the cost of keeping our air clean and healthy. Polls consistently show strong public support for the Environmental Protection Agency’s efforts to impose and enforce strict limits on air pollution. A new nationwide bipartisan survey, released on June 16 by the American Lung Association, includes these findings:

— 75 percent of voters support EPA setting stricter limits on smog.

— 65 percent said stricter limits on air pollution will not damage our economic recovery; in fact, 54 percent believe upgraded standards will create more, not fewer, jobs.

— 66 percent said the EPA should set pollution standards, not Congress.

And not only that, but:

In the House, Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, successfully pushed through H.R. 910, the Energy Tax Prevention Act, in a 255-172 vote. Opponents renamed it the “Dirty Air Act,” which seems fair enough considering the bill would:

— Block EPA from cutting carbon dioxide and other pollutants from coal-fired power plants, oil refineries and other industries. Opponents rightly point out that coal-fired plants are the largest single-source of global warming pollution in the U.S.

— Override the determination by EPA scientists that global warming pollution poses threats to public health and welfare. Opponents rightly challenge the notion that members of Congress are better informed about climate science than the EPA’s climate scientists.

— Block both the EPA and states from issuing new standards for cleaner vehicles after 2017. Opponents point out that these standards, as well as the 2012-2016 standards, help reduce our reliance on foreign oil and save motorists money at the gas pump.

In the Senate, Upton’s bill fell 10 votes shy of the 60 needed to overcome a filibuster, but many of its provisions turned up in four amendments to an unrelated small business bill (S.493).

It’s a good piece, and triggered these rather testy words, sent June 28:

The ongoing struggle against environmental regulation by giant corporations and their captive politicians is positively surreal in its disregard for the best interests of America and the world. Representative Upton’s attempt to hobble the EPA is based on specious rationalizations, poor science, and a mindset that exalts maximum immediate return on investment and nothing else. But a healthy environment cannot be exploited endlessly; Earth is large, but finite, and the waste products of our industrialized culture have begun to overwhelm the planet’s handling capacity. “The Environment” is not a fictional construct respected only by hippies and scientists; it’s where all of us live. All of us, that is, except multinational corporations, which explains why they find environmental regulations so annoying. It’s not their air that’s unbreathable, or their water that’s increasingly befouled; it’s ours. And other than as a source of short-term profits, what use have they for us?

Warren Senders

Year 2, Month 2, Day 16: Dingleberries

The Wall Street Journal reports on Fred Upton’s (R-MI) change of position on climate, and notes his eagerness to kill the EPA. Unlike many WSJ pieces, this one allows a spokesman for the Natural Resources Defense Council to have the last word:

Mr. Upton’s draft proposal to block the EPA regulation has drawn criticism from environmentalists, some of whom have accused him of backtracking on past statements in which he described climate change as “a serious problem” and that the U.S. has a responsibility to reduce its emissions.

“The market is tilted in favor of the dirty energy sources, and we’re paying for it with our health,” said David Doniger, an attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council, “Somehow you have to level the playing field so that public health and natural resources are protected from the pollution.”

This was sent on Tuesday, February 8.

Fred Upton’s reversal on the issue of climate change reveals the truth about this congressional power broker: he is, like the rest of his caucus, motivated entirely by political exigencies — which in the case of Republican legislators, translates as “fear of the Tea Party.” This group of anti-science, anti-reality agitators has so intimidated the entire GOP that even the most straightforward factual statements are no longer allowable in their public discourse. To set the record straight, Mr. Upton’s newly-fledged belief that climate change is “not necessarily man-made” is patently delusional. If ever there was a contemporary issue on which scientific consensus is overwhelming, it’s that of global warming. Mr. Upton’s support for crippling the Environmental Protection Agency is likewise a position based entirely on cynical, short-term political calculations; given the ludicrous dysfunctionality of the current Congress, EPA regulation of greenhouse gases is essential to bringing climate change under control.

Warren Senders