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Diane Roberts writes: "You'd think Congress would be too busy wrecking the economy to attack the environment. Yet, in the midst of a packed schedule snapping at President Obama's heels and lunging for each other's throats, Republicans have found time to try and rip the heart out of the Environmental Protection Agency, killing 40 years of protections for water, air, endangered species, wildlife habitat and national parks."

Jim Swanson is seen in his yard east of Laurel, Montana, where absorbent sheets were laid down to soak up oil from a ruptured ExxonMobil pipeline beneath the Yellowstone River, 07/02/11. (photo: Matthew Brown/AP)
Jim Swanson is seen in his yard east of Laurel, Montana, where absorbent sheets were laid down to soak up oil from a ruptured ExxonMobil pipeline beneath the Yellowstone River, 07/02/11. (photo: Matthew Brown/AP)

The Tea Party's Next Target:
The Environment

By Diane Roberts, Guardian UK

03 August 11


House Republicans aim to defund the Environmental Protection Agency, rolling back 40 years' progress on clean air and water.

ou'd think Congress would be too busy wrecking the economy to attack the environment. Yet, in the midst of a packed schedule snapping at President Obama's heels and lunging for each other's throats, Republicans have found time to try and rip the heart out of the Environmental Protection Agency, killing 40 years of protections for water, air, endangered species, wildlife habitat and national parks.

Instead of taking direct shots at the environment - not even Tea Tendency zealots come out and say they're pro-pollution - Republicans are going after the EPA. It's a "job-killer". America's high unemployment rate is not the fault of the worldwide recession or the housing bubble or Wall Street hubris or two unfunded wars on top of George W Bush's silly tax cuts for the rich, it's those damned DC bunny-huggers. Representative Mike Simpson of Idaho insists, "overregulation from EPA is at the heart of our stalled economy"; his colleague, Rep Louie Gohmert of Texas, says, "Let EPA go the way of the dinosaurs that became fossil fuels."

Congresswoman and presidential candidate Michele Bachmann doesn't want to wait for extinction, she advocates abolishing the EPA as soon as God puts the Tea Party in charge. She blames it for a host of anti-free market evils, from what she sees as an attempt to outlaw incandescent light bulbs (she countered with the "Lightbulb Freedom of Choice Act of 2011") to the "hoax" that is global climate change. Take no notice of what elitist scientists say, Bachmann knows better, assuring us that "CO2 is a natural byproduct of Nature."

The bill funding EPA and the department of the interior (HR 2584, if you want to look it up) is a dirty bomb, meant to destroy any rule that slows down environmental degradation. The legislation is so loaded with industry-backed amendments and riders - 77 so far - that it reads like a polluters' letter to Santa Claus. One provision would allow uranium mining right next to the Grand Canyon. Another would stop EPA from regulating pesticides, even if the pesticides kill endangered plants, birds, fish and other animals. EPA's funding would be slashed by 34% over the next two years, but America's oil and gas companies would be given an extra $55m on top of the $36bn in federal subsidies they already get.

No doubt it's the merest coincidence that Koch Industries, a major funder of the Tea Party, makes an awful lot of its vast profits off oil and gas exploration, petroleum refining and coal mining.

The bill's many excrescences include assaults on fragile species, including grey wolves and Pacific salmon, America's remaining wilderness lands and the very air we breathe. The EPA would be barred from limiting toxic emissions from power plants or setting fuel efficiency standards for cars, and, in defiance of existing law (to say nothing of common sense), the government could run its vehicles on fuels such as liquid coal, even though they're dirtier than conventional fuels.

Worse still, the bill is festooned with more than two dozen riders undermining decades of progress on water pollution. Before the Clean Water Act was passed with bipartisan support in 1972, 30% of drinking water samples from around the country contained dangerous levels of chemical effluent, the Hudson River teemed with carcinogenic PCBs, piped in courtesy of General Electric and Ohio's Cuyahoga River was so full of petrochemical waste it actually caught on fire. Now, Republicans want to forbid the EPA to limit the toxic stuff that rains down on streams and infests groundwater when coal companies blast the tops of mountains, and stop the EPA from protecting wetlands in areas that have experienced flooding. Never mind that wetlands mitigate storm water, and if you drain them, the flooding will only get worse. In the Looking Glass Land inhabited by House Republicans, knowledge has a liberal bias.

The EPA bill is not about saving money, and it's certainly not about conserving ecosystems and resources. It's about ideology, rejecting the idea that government should play a role in maintaining clean air and clean water for the general welfare of its citizens. It's about asserting what rightwingers see as their God-given freedom to drive a gas-guzzler with a Godzilla-sized carbon footprint or dam a river because it's convenient. So what if the salmon die? Eat bluefin tuna instead. It's about refusing to "believe" in global climate change (as if data are faith-based), the same way they don't "believe" in evolution or the Big Bang.

The pettiness is both astounding and embarrassing. One of the amendments in the EPA bill would deny funding for a wildlife refuge in Florida. King's Bay in Citrus County teems with manatees, harmless (though large) water mammals, which resemble swimming sofas with large, liquid eyes. Manatees are endangered, often maimed or killed by speedboats running over them. The local Tea Party got their congressman, Richard Nugent, to intervene on the grounds that - as Edna Mattos, 63, leader of the Citrus County Tea Party Patriots, put it - protecting manatees "elevates Nature above people: that's against the Bible and the Bill of Rights."

Tea Party Republicans are always going on about how they want to protect the American Dream for their children and grandchildren, bequeathing them a better future. If they really care about the generation to come, they'll remember that money doesn't get you far in a world of poisoned air and filthy water. The economy cannot function if the workers are dropping from respiratory illnesses and waterborne diseases. But in the Tea-infused alternative universe, all regulation is bad; and if Barack Obama's for it, they're against it.

Everything was great in those golden days when capitalism reigned unfettered, back when the air stung your eyes, the rivers burned and the lakes stank of death. your social media marketing partner


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We too were alarmed at the patterns we were, and still are, seeing. It is clear that the provocateurs are far more savvy, disciplined, and purposeful than anything we have ever experienced before.

It is also clear that we still have elements of the same activity in our article discussion forums at this time.

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Marc Ash
Founder, Reader Supported News

+12 # universlman 2011-08-03 18:47
not as worried as Diane - the conservative darlings, the bunny stompers, global warming and evolution deniers hold common beliefs that are being overturned today by the simple act of looking around

the proponents of safe tobacco would explain that holding to rosy but obviously naive beliefs over something so important is a long ramp to a sharp hard fall
+32 # PhilO 2011-08-03 21:58
"TEA" was initially meant as an acronym for 'Taxed Enough Already'. But in light of their recent and current behaviors, I think it actually stands for 'Terrorists, Extortionists, and A__holes'.
+7 # rm 2011-08-04 06:11
Portiz -- I think you have nailed them. TEA - terrorists, Extortionists, Assholes. Nothing more needs to be said.
+16 # Lynda Jovanovic 2011-08-03 22:21
Clearly,the Tea Party is goose-stepping down Ronald Reagan's distructive path. He, too, withheld EPA funding. What a contrast to another Republican . . . Richard Nixon . . . the president who gave us the Clean Air Act.
+16 # Activista 2011-08-03 22:58
Pesticide and herbicide are destroying wildlife - most of the politicians are ignorant - like local lawyer spraying herbicide on the lawn and his dog. But he makes laws and set fines.
There is such ignorance as nature goes - and it is getting worse.
It started with biblical fanatic - James Watt, Reagan's Secretary of the Interior - and REPUBLICAN tradition continues.
+6 # Capn Canard 2011-08-04 07:21
Activista, those herbicides and pesticides more often than not contain carcinogens and very well may be increasing cancer among those of us who naively buy our food at the supermarkets simply because we are to poor to grow our own gardens.
+5 # Activista 2011-08-04 09:43
Agree - "European Union legislates the use of chemicals on the precautionary principle–if there is any doubt about a substance’s safety, ban it until it is proven innocent. But in the United States we have taken the opposite approach–substa nces are legal until they are proven lethal, and with all of the lobbying in favor of toxic chemicals, many dangerous substances are allowed. Case in point: the EU has a ban on approximately 1,100 ingredients used in cosmetics, the US bans less than a dozen."
This is one of the areas where corporate profits come before health.

Read more:
+16 # Reader 2011-08-04 01:59
This dangerous band of fascist Americans should should rename themselves "The Anthrax Party" or something more apt. Every thing they do, and every word they utter is filled self centered vapid meanness. They are obviously set on destroying everyone and everything that isn't them. They are worse than the Stalinsts and Nazis of the past. If they have their misguided way we will all end up in horrible ruin.
+6 # Sen. Paul Muegge 2011-08-04 04:27
The Koch brothers have been planning this for years. They evented the environmental self-audit mentality, with a priviledged immunity clause that would discharge all liability for their actions. ALEC was originated and crafted to take absolute control of governance at the state and natl. level. They must be stopped from completing their mission.
+6 # Tony DiLeonardo 2011-08-04 05:01
You can rail about this forever but the truth is: EPA regs cut into the Koch Brothers bottom line and the Tea Party psychos act as if that's breaking all of gods 10 commandments...
+5 # MainStreetMentor 2011-08-04 05:44
Brilliant! They are sawing off the environmental limb we are all standing on. Their quote: "We have the money to buy all the water we want". Really? What if there isn't any?
-9 # MidwestTom 2011-08-04 06:03
Read the NAKED COMMUNIST which speaks directly to this issue, with a totally different view of the environment and it's regulation.
+6 # Activista 2011-08-04 09:48
is Beck manifesto ...
+6 # Diane Johnson 2011-08-04 08:41
the religious nutballs forget that last year the pope issued a declaration that to contaminate the environment is a sin.
+11 # fredboy 2011-08-04 09:15
Tea Party types on the Collier County FL (home of Naples, one of the nation's richest cities) commission just last week voted against more stringent controls of fertilizer pollution--whil e most of the county's Gulf of Mexico beaches were fronted by massive harmful algal blooms and fish kills. Marco Island FL Tea Party council members did the same--during a fish kill--a month earlier. Poor Naples passed strong fertilizer runoff controls several years ago, but it is squeezed between Collier and Marco Island, thus suffering the Tea Party eco wrath along its beaches and throughout its estuaries.

What's ironic is Florida Tea Party types don't understand clear, clean water IS the Florida economy. Tourists, conventioneers, and retirees seek clean waterfronts, beaches, lakes and rivers. Even the state’s agriculture industry best champion clean water, lest the public avoid its produce fearing algae-related cyanobacteria and its health effects.

Thus the Florida Tea Party is both anti-environmen t AND anti-business. The Collier vote cost the region millions in lost conventions, meetings, and related spending and jobs. But they don't understand, doggedly believing any pro-eco action is anti-business. Really stupid people.

Warn everyone about Nasty Collier.
+3 # PhilO 2011-08-04 12:18
How silly, short-sighted, and selfish.

I used to enjoy the beaches in that area (Barefoot, Pelican Bay, etc.), but the frequent red tides made my time there unbearable. So, now I go to the east coast of FL instead.

PS Does 'TEA' stand for 'Treated Enough Agua"?
+3 # russellbm 2011-08-04 10:32
The Tea Part is a hard pill to swoller, they are not American as we see ourselves, they are for the rich yet claiming that they are saving American. It is their way or the highway. We can no longer allow this to happen again, no hostages this time but if it is a fight it should be one we should give them. Their week spots is Who they represent not who they serve. Big Companies have to be let know that since they support these extremest we will stop purchasing their goods. This will bring a screeching halt to their hostage taking. Removing of the wallets will most certainly do it. If only we could get everybody to block big business from making any kind of a profit here in America would work wonders for us the ordinarily Joe who lives in these United States.
+1 # Valleyboy 2011-08-05 08:17
"The legislation is so loaded with industry-backed amendments and riders - 77 so far - that it reads like a polluters' letter to Santa Claus."
That's a cracking line!
Great article.
+2 # Dona Quixote 2011-08-05 12:28
I used to think I might live to an old age, possibly even one in which I become incapacitated and would have to go to a home. Now I am relieved-I will die at a much younger age and may even be able to die fighting at the barricades if the sheeple ever revolt-or perhaps with this new political disaster in an ecological collapse to come-in a FEMA camp or preferably on foot on a long waterless trail beneath the open sky.
+2 # Lulie 2011-08-06 17:05
Of COURSE they want to destroy the environment. They're not satisfied to RUIN people's lives -- they want to END their lives. If the environment's shot, there's nothing else.
Are we to assume that these tea-baggers have no children? Are they planning to just trash the place and leave?
+1 # Glen 2011-08-07 08:04
Many of these folks are of the religious ilk that claims their god made the earth for man for his use. Once it is gone those folks will move on to a higher plane. Truly - they don't care.

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