Washington didn’t come to a standstill last week. While the GOP leadership was busy holding a gun to the economy and threatening to shoot if we didn’t give in to all their demands… the rank and file were taking a little time to trash the environment.
The House started the budget process for the Interior Department, which covers a lot of environmentally sensitive ground. Here are just a few of the things the Republicans have planned for us:
Open up the Grand Canyon for uranium mining– because nothing says GOP like giving away our most pristine national treasures to private companies to blow up (to supply a nuclear industry that should be on the way out, anyway).
Block ALL regulation of mountaintop removal mining– Mountaintop removal mining (MTR) is one of the most destructive and wasteful and polluting practices ever come up with (plus, as a cherry on top, it ALSO slashes large numbers of jobs for miners!). The EPA has been trying to make it less destructive, but the GOP wants to put all MTR regulations on hold. No enforcement. Zilch. (See: Coal Company Refused Changes That Would Have Cost $0.55 a Ton)
Increasing pollution of streams – The Bush administration made lots of things easier for industry, including allowing MTR mining companies to just dump their toxin-laden leftovers in streams. The streams that feed much of the drinking rivers of the Atlantic region and the Ohio Valley. Because nothing says GOP like allowing industry to use everyone’s drinking water as their personal toilet. They want to prevent the EPA from returning to the pre-Bush standard (of no dumping within 100 feet of streams). (See: EPA Vetoes Mountaintop Removal Coal Mine).
Blocks EPA Funds to Great Lake States due to Ballast Water Requirements – Ships carry water for ballast, water that is often pumped into the hold in strange and exotic places. It’s a big way that invasive species get introduced, so there have been rules put in place to limit that danger. This one is so obviously needed that even the GOP isn’t going after it directly – but ARE proposing to block ALL EPA funds to Great Lakes states if they have adopted ballast water requirements that are more stringent than Coast Guard requirements. The Coast Guard believes this will block at least four Great Lake States from receiving any EPA funds. Nice, eh?
-> next page: Cutting oil companies exemptions from the Clean Air Act
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