It is a fairly safe bet that if one polled 100 Americans and asked if they supported clean air and water, and some means of controlling the devastating weather events, few would opt for foul air, polluted water, and more intense weather unless there were Republican politicians taking part in the survey. Republicans love to pledge allegiance to causes like never raising taxes, preventing same-sex couples from marrying, and nearly any cause promoting inequality, and now they are signing on to a new pledge to Charles and David Koch to oppose any legislation relating to climate change unless it is accompanied by an offsetting amount of tax cuts. It is little secret that the Koch brothers are opposed to any and all regulations that affect their power to pollute the air and water that contributes to climate change, and with their legislative arm the American Legislative Exchange Council, they are influencing members of Congress and state legislatures’ to ensure clean air and water remains elusive and that regulations to reduce the effects of climate change never become law.
First, the Kochs are enlisting Republicans to make it unlikely any bills regulating carbon emissions ever become law, and because they are requiring accompanying offsetting tax cuts, they guarantee their anti-climate change policies will remain the law of the land. The Koch brothers’ pledge is the work of their tax-exempt Americans for Prosperity, and the “No Climate Tax” has successfully prevented Republican lawmakers from addressing climate change particularly by thwarting efforts to control greenhouse-gas emissions by killing cap-and-trade energy bills in the Senate.
The No Climate Tax pledge has garnered signatures from 411 lawmakers nationwide including the entire House Republican leadership, one-third of the members of the House of Representatives, and a quarter of U.S. senators. According to a New York Times report on the Koch pledge, “Since most solutions to the problem of greenhouse-gas emissions require costs to the polluters and the public, the pledge essentially commits those who sign to it to vote against nearly any meaningful bill regarding global warning, and acts as yet another roadblock to action.” Roadblock is putting it mildly, and it means regardless the threats from climate change, there is little Americans can expect from Republicans in the way of relief because they are beholden to follow directions from the Kochs and their source of power ALEC.
Last month in the Republican House, an ALEC a regulatory reform template moving through Congress was assailed by Democratic representative Rep. Hank Johnson (GA) as having “the Koch brothers’ fingerprints all on it.” The ALEC template was targeting the use of “sue and settle” practices in conflicts over clean air and water regulations. Environmental groups used “sue and settle” to force over 100 new rules from the Presidents Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that allows clean air and water advocates to file a lawsuit against a federal agency for failing to meet a regulatory deadline or requirement. Since ALEC and the Kochs are not elected members of Congress, Republicans used their surrogate legislative arm, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to step in and quash efforts to allow the EPA to do their job.
The Chamber of Commerce, an ALEC member on the Civil Justice Task Force, rallied behind legislation introduced by ALEC puppet Doug Collins (R-GA) to put a halt to the lawsuits that public advocacy groups argued will “stack the deck in favor of more corporate litigation.” According to a regulatory public advocate at public Citizen, “By advocating for ‘regulatory reform’ legislation, the Chamber wants to make it easier to legally challenge and overturn regulations they and their big business allies oppose,” and the Chamber has no bigger business allies than the Kochs’ personal legislative machine ALEC. Representative Johnson, a Democrat assailed the Republican-sponsored legislation as “an anti-regulatory bill drafted by the American Legislative Exchange Council, also known as ALEC,” and continued that “The Koch brothers have used ALEC to invest in radical ideas. Passage of this bill would have a dramatic, dastardly impact on air and water quality,” Johnson was right that the Kochs are using ALEC templates to curb the use of “sue and settle” practices, and any other means to prevail in fights over regulations.
Air and water quality, or the devastating effects from global climate change, affect every man, woman, and child in America but regulations protecting the people, their health and welfare, and property from devastating weather events are of no concern to the Koch brothers and their obscene wealth. Apparently, those life-giving necessities are of no concern to Republicans who dutifully push through, or block, any legislation that may help the people they were elected to serve in their never-ending assault on regulations they claim to hate with a passion. However, if they are presented with the opportunity to regulate women’s reproductive health, they become fierce advocates of regulations and curiously they regulate without signing a pledge to their religious supporters.
Despite that President Obama just recently addressed climate change, a comprehensive climate policy would be a more effective means than the administration using the Clean Air Act to limit greenhouse gas emissions just as an example, but of course that would necessitate the Congress to work towards a consensus remedy. But with a Republican obstructionist movement that hates anything coming out of the Obama White House, and the chance that the Koch brothers, ALEC, Americans for Prosperity, or the Chamber of Commerce will tolerate policymakers convening with environmentalists and industries to work on an alternative, there is little chance that anything resembling climate legislation, clean air and water, or anything for the people’s health and welfare ever coming to fruition and to make certain they prevail, the Kochs have 411 Republicans signatures on a pledge to ensure abject failure.