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Feb-25-2011 22:20printcomments

Editorial Backlash to Republican Budget Attack on EPA Health Protections

From the staff blog of the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Carbon emissions

(WASHINGTON D.C.) - The radical steps taken last week by the U.S. House of Representatives to dismantle the Environmental Protection Agency's updates to clean air rules are not exactly winning kudos from America's editorial boards.

"Again, the problem with the Republican proposal is that it does not go far enough.

"We don’t just want to lighten the weight of big government on our backs, we want to remove big government from our backs completely.

"Therefore, while we still have momentum gained from the November 2010 elections, let’s not just rein in the EPA but abolish it. And having abolished it, let’s put an agency in its place that fulfills the original purpose of the EPA minus the capability to snowball itself into some arbitrary body of unchecked, de facto lawmakers whose names never appear on a ballot."

- AWR Hawkins, 'Big Government'

Here are some of the key editorials that have appeared so far:

An Assault on the Environment, Albany Times Union editorial

The new House Republican majority likes to say that the American people spoke last year. If the GOP's spending bill is any indication, it seems the American people are clamoring for more mercury in their fish, oil on their coasts and pollution in their drinking water. Those would be just some of the environmental highlights of a House spending bill to keep the government running through Sept. 30. Or perhaps anti-environmental highlights would be more apt. Anti-health, too.

U.S. House Republicans swing a dangerous budget ax, Detroit Free Press editorial

The budget passed by U.S. House Republicans -- it got zero Democratic votes -- early last Saturday morning is rash and dangerous. Designed to get the country through until Oct. 1, the House resolution slashes programs in midstream and ties the hands of several departments, particularly the Environmental Protection Agency.

A Vote for the Environment is a Vote for N.H., Concord Monitor editorial

The Upton bill, and companion legislation in the Senate, would prohibit the EPA and the states from strengthening future vehicle fuel-efficiency and tailpipe air-pollution standards. It would block the agency from reducing emissions from power plants, refineries and cement kilns. Upton and his supporters argue that such regulation would hurt the economy. It's the same line used in the 1970s when the government started requiring catalytic converter technology in cars to reduce air pollution and in the 1980s when the government attacked acid rain pollution. In fact, the air grew cleaner and new technologies sprung up to meet the challenge.

Mercury Rising, Raleigh News & Observer editorial

In one of history's sorrier twists, Republicans in the U.S. House are down on the Environmental Protection Agency, way down. This week they're trying to gut its powers to regulate pollutants in the air, on farmland and in water. Yet the national movement to protect our environment had its roots in the heyday of Republican Theodore Roosevelt, and Richard Nixon helped create the EPA. So why all the animosity now? Overreaching regulations that stifle business, agency opponents say. However, the EPA generally proposes rules that are required by law - and common sense. The more we know about ill-health in humans and ill-effects on the natural world, the more obvious it is that industrial processes must be regulated for the common good. Some pollution is inevitable, but the government is right to put a lid on it.

EPA Under Attack, Providence Journal editorial

Republicans in Congress, and some Democrats, are bent on blocking the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from curbing greenhouse gases. For that matter, they would be happy to have the agency stand back in a number of areas, from safer toxic coal-ash disposal to improving the efficiency of industrial boilers and solid-waste incinerators. One reason they give is that regulation is bad for business. The main source they cite: senior business executives desirous of maximum short-term corporate profits, and thus maximum compensation for the execs. The other aspects of the equation — public health and welfare — are rarely mentioned. Indeed, the long-term health of the U.S. economy stands to benefit greatly from a shift to cleaner and more efficient energy.

The Dirty Energy Party, New York Times editorial

Yet even this retailored approach is sure to whip the Republicans into a fresh frenzy of opposition. They have already made clear their determination to cut off financing and otherwise undermine the Environmental Protection Agency, which plans to regulate carbon emissions from power plants and other industrial sources using its authority under the Clean Air Act. But basic scientific research? Energy efficiency? Cleaner fuels? The House Republican budget resolution gives the back of its hand to even these worthy and unobjectionable strategies, which until now have enjoyed reliable bipartisan support.

Ignoring it won't make it go away, Washington (PA) Observer-Reporter editorial

Said Daniel Lashof, who leads the National Resources Defense Council's climate center, "Apparently, the House majority does not want to see how pollution is affecting the climate." That certainly appears to be the case, and our own Congressman Tim Murphy, who voted for the resolution, is part of the see-no-evil, hear-no-evil faction. But despite the politicians' willful suspension of belief in facts and science, the reports of the many and varied threats to our environment will continue to be issued. Just in the past week, researchers appearing in Washington, D.C., at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, predicted that 50 million "environmental refugees" will stream into the global north within the next 10 years because of climate change-related food shortages.

Serving Ideology, Not Voters, St. Petersburg Times

The House plan also takes aim at specific regulations that Republicans find politically objectionable. For example, it bars the Environmental Protection Agency from enforcing limits on carbon dioxide pollution. Like a tea party manifesto, the plan strips funding from federal regulatory agencies that protect workers, food safety and the environment.

And those editorials only tell part of the story.

Next up: An overview of major op-ed articles appearing across the U.S. that are saying a big "hell no!" to the U.S. House's unwarranted attack on the EPA. For more information, contact Rob Perks, NRDC, (202) 289-2360 or

Source: Rob Perks's Blog

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