Most of the country and many around the world are focused on the debate on the debt ceiling and various budget cuts that will be enacted. However, lying just beneath the surface, are a labyrinth of Congressional bills that attack the environment and America’s push for renewable energy.
There is a tremendous need for comprehensive energy and environmental policy in the U.S. We need to have an open and honest debate, but in the current political environment, such debate is impossible. It is clear that Republicans, especially those on the far right, turn a blind eye when it comes to energy and the environment. Ideology and politics have supplanted doing what is right for the American public of this generation and future generations to come.
Take for example, HR 2584, sponsored by Representative Michael Simpson (R – Idaho). This is an appropriations bill for the Department of the Interior and the EPA for fiscal year 2012. According to Congressman Dicks (D – Washington), between the cuts enacted for FY 2011 and the proposed cuts for FY 2012, the EPA’s budget would be cut by approximately 34%. That amount of cuts is enough to turn some heads. Republicans argue that it is to “rein in unparalleled, out-of-control spending and job-killing overregulation by the EPA.”
HR 2584 severely limits the EPA’s ability to regulate greenhouse gases for a one year period; blocks Clean Air Act regulations of the cement industry; prohibits funding for the EPA to develop or finalize a new greenhouse gas standard for automobiles after the 2016 model year; prohibits funding for the EPA to regulate certain levels of particulate matter in the air under the Clean Air Act; directs an additional $55 million in subsidies to oil and gas companies; opens up uranium mining in lands next to the Grand Canyon; and prohibits the EPA from changing or supplementing guidance or rules related to the scope of the Clean Water Act.
The above is just a sample of the ridiculous nature of this bill and how senseless Republicans have become. I am not sure about you, but I like clean water, clean air, and the beautiful Grand Canyon. Regardless of party affiliation, I think we can all agree on that. Reducing government interference is great in concept, but sometimes, the free market will not act in the best interest of the people. Preserving and enhancing our environment so that we and future generations can enjoy is, I think, something we can all believe in and strive for.
While not as egregious as HR 2584, HR 2354, sponsored by Representative Rodney Frelinghuysen (R – New Jersey) makes cuts to energy efficiency and renewable energy programs at the Department of Energy. More importantly, is the stark difference between the budget for fossil energy research and development (476,993,000) and the budget for the Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E) (100,000,000). Although ARPA-E’s budget was increased, efforts to shift funds from fossil energy research to ARPA-E were blocked. It seems clear that Republicans have no concept of where our energy priorities should be.
Republicans have become, thanks to the far right, too ideological, too far out of the mainstream, and unwilling to enter into a common sense debate on energy and the environment. The party has made it clear that cooperation or compromise is not in their blood.