A review of votes in the 112th Congress shows a GOP at war with environmental protections
This year alone, the anti-environment side has prevailed more than 100 votes in the House of Representatives. That’s the claim of two liberal Democratic lawmakers, who have issued a report documenting 110 instances since January in which bills intended to strengthen environmental protection have been blocked or otherwise undermined in the Republican-controlled House.
Reps. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Edward Markey (D-Mass.) have released a fact sheet (available in full here) detailing all of the votes, which include attempts to deny that climate change is occurring; votes to block the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from regulating carbon emissions from power plants and oil refineries; and votes to block EPA from regulating carbon emissions from motor vehicles, which also reduces oil imports. 28 votes were to block actions to prevent air and water pollution and 27 were “to undermine protection for public lands and coastal areas.”
The partisan split in voting will come as little surprise: 97 percent of Republicans voted against environment protections, while 84 percent of Democrats voted for the pro-environment position.
“The new Republican majority seems intent on restoring the robber-baron era where there were no controls on pollution from power plants, oil refineries and factories,” said Waxman, a ranking member on the Energy and Commerce Committee. “This is the most anti-environment House of Representatives in history.”
Meanwhile, congressional summer recess has stalled an ongoing debate over the Interior and Environment Appropriations bill, which some have called “the worst assault on clean air and water in history.” As a Friday LA Times editorial notes, the appropriations bill has been loaded up with “riders” (controversial provisions tacked onto bills, often because they wouldn’t pass on their own) “that would encourage deadly pollution of the air and water, set back efforts to reduce greenhouse gases and allow uranium mining near the Grand Canyon, among other things.”
Markey and Waxman count 39 such anti-environment riders in the bill, which will be debated again after August recess. If it passes — as a stand alone bill or alongside other appropriations bills — Waxman, Markey and co. will have all the more ground from which to call this the most anti-environment House in history.
Natasha Lennard is an assistant news editor at Salon, covering non-electoral politics, general news and rabble-rousing. Follow her on Twitter @natashalennard, email firstname.lastname@example.org. More Natasha Lennard.
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