Republican Party

Scott Walker and House GOP Pollute the Spirit of Earth Day


It appears that although Earth Day is an annual event celebrated worldwide to demonstrate support for environmental protection, only Republicans are capable of using the day to perpetuate their anti-environment agenda in service to the Koch brothers. Of course, Republicans generally use every day, and every opportunity, to advance the anti-environment agenda of the Koch brothers specifically, and the fossil fuel industry in general, but they spent Earth Day highlighting their blatant disregard for America’s environment and Earth’s ecosystem in their never-ending crusade to despoil the planet.

There were two abominable acts yesterday by Republicans even as President Obama celebrated Earth Day by highlighting the perils of climate change and his efforts to protect America’s national environmental treasures. It should come as no surprise to any thinking American that both Republican actions were for the benefit of their funding machine the Koch brothers and their anti-environment fossil fuel industry cohort. That the despicable anti-environmental acts were on the day the world celebrates protecting the environment was no coincidence and a deliberate slight against environmentalists as well as President Obama.

First, on  Earth Day in Wisconsin, Koch acolyte Governor Scott Walker fulfilled his Draconian budget pledge and sent out termination notices to 57 employees of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. It was less than two weeks ago that Wisconsin became the second Koch state to forbid any discussion of, or research to combat the effects of, anthropogenic climate change. As if to punctuate just how serious Walker is in doing the will of the Kochs and put a stop to environmental scientists’ attempt to curb the climate change damage to Wisconsin’s ecosystem and citizens, 57 DNR employees, mostly environmental scientists, were notified that their services were no longer required.

The DNR’s scientific staff conducts research on all matters surrounding Wisconsin’s environment and regulating the state’s natural resources. Walker had claimed the job cuts were necessary as part of a fiscally responsible budget. However, what is exceptionally telling is that the firings to save the state money for more tax cuts for the rich are not funded using the state’s general funds the budget cuts were to reduce. As one of the scientists receiving termination notices said, “Never mind that I, like most others targeted, are federally funded or funded from (a segregated account) and not general purpose revenue. Thus, this measure will have no effect on the state budget.”

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It is true, the firings have nothing to do with saving the state money and everything to do with Walker’s multi-year crusade to degrade the DNR that not only does research on effects of climate change and how best to prevent damage to the environment, but regulates the state’s mining and oil industry. The timing of the Department of Natural Resources termination notices on Earth Day was not a coincidence; they were a signal to the Koch brothers that Scott Walker is doing their bidding and reining in the state’s environmental protection agency. It is something that House Republicans duly mirrored in Washington on Earth Day.

Now that the Koch’s own Congress, House Republicans made their own environmental assault on Earth Day.  While President Obama was in the Florida Everglades talking about the devastating effects on the environment of climate change and the benefit to the environment of his proposed carbon emission rules for power plants, House Republicans were voting on a measure to delay the rules indefinitely. As many Americans are likely aware, the sponsors of the Republican legislation are heavily funded by electric utilities and the oil and gas industry.

The President’s new rules announced last year will “reduce carbon dioxide emissions to 30 percent below 2005 levels” as part of the historic climate deal President Obama made with China. China has already began closing down coal-fired power plants to meet its commitment to reduce carbon emissions. Like China, America’s power plants are the greatest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the country and account for over a third of all emissions nationwide. Greenhouse gases are the greatest contributors to global climate change and America and China are the world’s primary source of carbon emissions driving the damaging effects of a warming climate.

The Koch-backed Republican legislation making its way through the House of Representatives would require any implementation of the new EPA greenhouse gas rules dependent on judicial approval before any state would be required to comply with the mandated reduction. Like everything President Obama puts in place as head of the Executive Branch, Republicans either file a lawsuit against his actions or, in the case of the EPA regulations, defer to the judiciary to eventually involve the Koch’s Supreme Court. By passing legislating mandating judicial review before the rules are even implemented with a goal of appealing to the High Court, the Koch Congress can prevent implementation indefinitely. If Republicans lose in lower courts, they will file appeal after appeal until they are permanently abolished if the Koch devotees on the Supreme Court are allowed to rule they are unconstitutional.

This House legislation that will certainly pass and make its way to the Senate which is exactly what Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell promised red-state governors he would deliver last month. McConnell wrote an op-ed and instructed governors in all 50 states to violate federal law and refuse to implement the President’s carbon emission standards; standards that he informed the state’s governors and world governments “were illegal.”

Neither of the Republican acts, Walker’s termination notices of DNR scientists nor House Republicans’ legislation to thwart the EPA’s carbon emission regulations, on Earth Day were coincidental. They were both meant as a signal to environmentally-conscious Americans and President Obama that Republicans could not care less about the environment, the Earth, or the health and welfare of the American people. It was also a signal to the Koch brothers that their hundreds-of-millions in campaign donations were well spent.

Although there is no recourse for Wisconsin environmental scientists losing their jobs to Walker’s Koch budget cuts, House and eventually Senate Republicans have the prospect of seeing their Koch legislation requiring judicial review of EPA regulations get exactly what it deserves; President Obama’s veto. It is just too bad it will not come on Earth Day.

Image; MotherJones

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