If the selection of climate denier Donald Trump as their standard-bearer wasn’t an obvious enough clue, Republican leaders this week dropped any pretense that they care about environmental protection. Rather, they appear to be adopting the entire agenda of big polluters.
In the span of just a few days GOP congressional leaders loaded up appropriations bills with absurd anti-environment amendments, and the party’s convention platform committee adopted language calling coal, the dirtiest of fossil fuels, “clean” energy. (Sometimes you can’t make this stuff up.)
Among the gems House Republicans are trying to ram through before they leave Washington for a long summer break? Big cuts in funding for EPA enforcement of clean air and clean water standards, repealing limits on carbon pollution from power plants and scores of other policy riders seeking to undo the Obama administration’s environmental progress. In fact, the appropriations bill for the Interior department is so laden with anti-environment junk the White House declared it dead on arrival.
“The bill underfunds core Department of the Interior programs as well as the Environmental Protection Agency’s operating budget, which supports nationwide protection of human health, and vital air, water and land resources,” the White House said in a statement, adding, “Furthermore, the legislation includes numerous highly unacceptable provisions that have no place in funding legislation. These provisions threaten to undermine the most basic protections for America’s unique natural treasures and the people and wildlife that rely on them, as well as the ability of States and communities to address climate change and protect a resource that is essential to America’s health—clean water.”
If there’s a bright side to all this, it’s that the GOP is showing American voters what they’ll do if Donald Trump wins. Without a presidential veto to block these attacks on clean air and clean water, Republicans will be free to turn the clock back on nearly 50 years of environmental progress and give polluters free reign.
Americans are increasingly concerned about the growing impacts of climate change, and they believe the U.S. should lead efforts to avoid the worst damage. They want strong environmental standards that protect the air we breathe and the water we drink. They prefer clean energy development over reliance on the dirty fossil fuels of the past.
Republicans are betting voters won’t notice their party not only doesn’t share these values, it’s working against them.