EARTHWORKS

Re: the 112th Congress…the worst is over

Aaron Mintzes's avatar
By Aaron Mintzes

November 9, 2012

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Our friends at the League of Conservation Voters produce annual scorecards rating Members of Congress on their environmental voting records. The latest edition declared the 112th House of Representatives as the most anti-environmental House in the history of the nation. It all started with HR 1, a budget bill laced with a buffet of pro-pollution appropriations riders. Americans already know about the party of “No”. A Senate that set the record for most filibusters ever preceded this worst House.

I just want to make clear that this is not just about policies that favor polluting industries over protecting public health and the environment. I’m talking about the kind of ideas where up means down, yes means no, charmed means strange- where every day is opposite day. The kind of obnoxiousness that ignores reality, plays truth ju-jitsu, and talks out of both sides of the mouth.

Junk Science in Government Agencies

Remember the House bill banning EPA from regulating farm dust? “Pixie dust” critics called it, because EPA repeatedly said they were not issuing new rules on particulate matter and farm dust is just something the GOP made up. Just like the so-called “War on coal.” Or remember when the EPA linked fracking operations to contaminated water in Pavillion, WY? The House Majority wheels EPA before one of their subcommittee chairman who accuses them of “regulatory straight-jacketing”, “scientific innuendo”, and “press release politics”. Really. Politicians accuse the scientists of political hackery. That’s the 112th for ya. Several months later scientists at US Geological Survey substantially confirmed the EPA’s findings.

Math That Just Doesn’t Add Up

Fiscal responsibility remains the talk of the town. A town where sequester has become a term of art. A town that risks default rather than raise the debt ceiling, where a “super committee” accomplishes nothing, and arithmetic no longer provides predictable solutions. I’ve seen legislators rail against the danger of excessive government spending, then support more spending on mine clean up, and then oppose efforts that shift the financial burden from taxpayers to industry.

Grover Norquist and Rep. Labrador convene a press conference to complain about excessive government spending. The Congressman’s bill would remove tax credits for the solar and wind energy industry saving the Treasury all of $9 million a year. By comparison, ending the subsidies for the oil industry would save $12.2 billion a year. I mean do we even bat an eye anymore when fiscal policy solutions we debate differ by three orders of magnitude? Not in the 112th.

Some weeks ago, I attended a farewell dinner for retiring Congressman Barney Frank. Famous for his Dodd-Frank financial reform bill, Congressman Frank’s message to all the gathered advocates was a call for compromise to achieve policy goals. Rigid ideology gets us nowhere. The day following the President’s re-election, Speaker Boehner appeared before the cameras ceding no policy turf, but striking a refreshing conciliatory tone. I believe strongly that progress is possible. One step forward would to agree that arithmetic works again.

I mean, not for the 112th.

Tagged with: sequester, pavillion, lummis, farm dust, 112th congress

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