America's right wing is using the escalating debt dispute with President Obama for an attack on environmental protection. Not only is it placing economic interests over environmental issues, apparently the conservatives think they can trump the physics of the planet with political views.
Again and again at large rallies of the tea party movement in the U.S., thousands of people chant against climate change. An agitator on stage yells, “Global warming is …” and the angry crowd responds, “Bullshit!” (in German: Global warming is “crap.”)
At such moments it becomes clear that America's right wing is no longer just trying to put economic interests above environmental issues. It apparently thinks it can trump the physics of the planet with political views.
U.S. conservatives’ problems with environmental issues have a long tradition. Environmentalists and climate researchers recall with a shudder the presidency of George W. Bush, during which climate treaties had no chance and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency was downgraded to window dressing.
Republican politicians are now using the escalating debt dispute with President Obama to once again deliver massive strikes against the environmental laws of the United States. Republican members of the House of Representatives have compiled several dozen legislative changes. This week, they are supposed to come to a vote.
The catalog that Democratic politicians have distilled from this flood of proposals reads like a farewell to any form of environmental protection. The goal of many of the stipulated measures is to curtail the jurisdiction of agencies like the EPA and Fish and Wildlife Service and to cut the budgets necessary to enforce the protection of natural resources. Examples of the latter are the elimination of boat controls on the Yukon River in Alaska and a suspension of studies that are examining the cancer risk from arsenic and formaldehyde.
Wish List for Polluters
The Bureau of Land Management should also be prevented from designating further open spaces as environmentally protected areas; however, there should be massive easements for the use of public lands as pasture. Other suggestions, such as the deregulation of pollution by animal husbandry, also support the production of meat.
According to the will of the conservative representatives, the Department of the Interior would no longer have jurisdiction over mountaintop removal mining. In the future, the Grand Canyon National Park should be available for the mining of uranium.
The Environmental Protection Agency should no longer be permitted to decide how to treat dust and solid waste from the burning of coal and petroleum. Likewise, the EPA from now on should not be permitted to change clean water laws or to supplement them with regulations.
On the question of the use of forests, the public should have less of a voice and cedar wood from Alaska should be released for export. Mine operators as well as cement manufacturers should receive financial relief. The latter should also, like the oil companies, no longer be bothered with clean air laws.
The packet of demands is “a wish list for polluters,” lamented Democratic Rep. Norm Dicks in The New York Times. Actually, most of the wishes for change brought forth by the Republicans hardly have any chance as soon as they encounter the Democratic majority in the Senate.
The breadth of the attack on the current environmental policies of the U.S. is, however, astonishing. More than a few Republicans see the Environmental Protection Agency as a stumbling block for the stalled U.S. economy.
According to their will, not only should the jurisdiction of the bureaus be cut, but also the budget — by a full 18 percent. Nonetheless, the suggestion of forbidding the Fish and Wildlife Service from classifying further species as endangered went too far for some Republicans.
The Latin dictionary translates the word “conservare” into the concepts “preserve,” “conserve,” “take care of.” That the conservative Americans give little due to word origin in the matter of environmental protection remains a paradox.
Edited by Rica Asuncion-Reed