It’s hard to know where to start, as a mother of three kids under 18, one of whom has a recurring respiratory problem whenever he gets a cold, and living in a state that gets an overall F in clean air, when it comes to how universally savage the Republican presidential hopefuls are toward the Environmental Protection Agency.
If you missed the news, here’s a breakdown of how each of seven candidates addressed environment and energy issues in this past Monday’s Republican presidential primary debate in New Hampshire. (Note: it’s from a blog called Energy & Capital, and you can read about the editors of it here.) U.S. Representative and presidential primary candidate Michele Bachmann, had the most choice words. Her solution to all our problems that she deems are connected to regulation? She demands that we start with changing the name of the agency from “Environmental Protection Agency” to “Job-Killing Organization of America.”
Hmm. Really? A name change? Well, I get the obsession with the image is everything thing, but I think she’s going to have to do a whole lot more research, analysis and formulating before she’s going to convince anyone that a name change is going to make a difference.
So, what information might she need to check out before she stands by this literal kiss of death policy position of hers?
Let’s start with the reality that over and over again, polls show that more than 70% and nearly as many as 80% of Americans want the protections offered by the EPA. This includes Republicans, in overwhelming numbers, as well as Independents and Democrats. Findings include, “…a majority of Americans don’t buy the claim that new regulations will kill jobs” and this conclusion that shows just how being a woman and very likely a parent may matter (except to Bachmann obviously):
Even moderate Republicans and Republican women overwhelmingly support the EPA after a balanced debate. The only groups that show significant support for Congressional action to stop the EPA from updating smog standards are conservative Republicans, Republican men and strong supporters of the Tea Party.
For those who may find the title of this post harsh, that’s nothing. Consider this excerpt, from a blog entry called, “The GOP’s Sanctity of Life Doesn’t Include Safe Drinking Water or Clean Air”:
…At the Republican debate in New Hampshire on Monday night, the panel of presidential hopefuls announced their hatred for regulatory agencies tasked with protecting our natural resources, and in the process showed their contempt for the safety, health, and well-being of the American people.
Most conservative Americans have no problem approving the government spending over half of its budget to maintain a powerful military to protect our security and freedom, but with Republicans parroting the “regulations kill jobs” meme ad nauseum, they balk at spending a fraction of oil company subsidies to ensure there is clean air and safe drinking water. Republicans also attempted to cut the weather service’s early warning system, the nuclear regulatory agency, the FDA, poison control, and the Centers for Disease Control and are still working to eliminate those agencies. They are not cutting regulatory agencies to save jobs, but to save corporations’ bottom line, and if Americans have to suffer and die, then as John Boehner said, so be it. Americans deserve better from their politicians, but Republicans deserve nothing except long prison sentences for attempted toxic homicide and for their contempt for the American people. Apparently, the Republican’s nauseating promise to protect the “Sanctity of Life” is just another catch-phrase to engender support from polluted, poisoned, and pitiful supporters.
I understand anger toward individuals who refuse to acknowledge the benefits we, as humans, as parents, as inhabitants on this Earth, gain from acting to protect ourselves, others and what we have on this planet. It completely confounds me as to why, in particular, people who are religious and understand that we’re here to take care of this Earth and each other refuse to stand up and out of their otherwise politically expedient positions and speak on behalf of all of us, and all of our life, from cradle to grave and all the time in between. It’s illogical, period.
It’s not that those of us who do support capitalism don’t “get it.” We get it. But this excerpt from another blog post about Bachmann’s position states the case for the EPA eloquently:
It’s always difficult extolling the virtues of a cumbersome bureaucracy, but it’s important to remember that the EPA is far too important to even consider dismantling. It’s the only thing preventing industry and individuals from dumping, emitting, and contaminating our nation’s national resources. It’s responsible from the drastic improvement in air quality in our urban areas. Nobody else is going to enforce pollution controls nationwide.
And more in these entries:
Republicans Must Love Scorching Deadly Summers – though again, interestingly, it’s supposed Republican leaders competing to be Commander in Chief who seem to love those deadly summers. The rank and file, according to the polls, totally get what the EPA needs to do – and what we need to have done to protect us.
Or, put another way, Why Do Republicans Hate Clean Water? In that post, the writer describes the useful information received from the water department and accurately states,
I like this. I think it is valuable for a number of reasons, beyond simply keeping me informed. It also verifies that the folks who provide me my water are keeping an eye on things, and providing a safe, clean product that I and my neighbors can consume. It’s the very model of good government. This is why we band together to form government- to do things that would be impossible to do otherwise.
How simple is that? How very EPA-like is that? How is that not exactly, as the blogger says, what good government is, and not characteristic of a “job killing organization”? I cannot accept that we should prefer a people-killing lack of regulation over the existence of regulation that utilizes corporate profits for the health which their profit-making business would otherwise help erode.
GOP hopefuls recycle energy talking points – I mean, how disappointing is that? Here were seven people suggesting that the country is going in the wrong direction, they want to go in a different direction which they just so happen to think is a better direction, and they can’t come up with anything new to say about energy? Really? They clearly are not reading the Moms Clean Air Force blog – and I’m not being cutesy.
I do regret and dislike that this issue, unlike almost any other, seems to breakdown so stereotypically on political party lines and in alignment with corporate donations to elected officials. And as noted above, what’s even more sinister about that is that Americans – despite their party affiliation actually support and understand and desire that our government regulate air, water and our natural resources.
So let me close with this: Maybe one of my fellow moms in our Clean Air Force can get Michele Bachmann’s attention with our effort and approach her as what she most famously likes to remind people about: she’s a biological mother to five and a foster mom to 23. Let us help her understand what being all that in a state with an “F” in clean air is like. Let’s provide her with information like the collection of excellent historical facts about our efforts to keep our planet clean in Some Things Michele Bachmann Probably Doesn’t Know About The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency). It appeals to Bachmann on a very homey, first-person basis:
Let’s face reality Michele, infants and toddlers put everything in their mouth, so what’s your beef with regulation that requires businesses to use paints that are safe for children?
In 1988 Congress, with support of the EPA, stood in the way of businesses that thought ocean dumping of industrial waste and sewage was a quick way to make a buck. Sure, the legislation restricted free enterprise, but seriously Michele, do you want poop to be dumped where you swim?
While new home construction always gets the headlines, in much of the US Americans reside in structures that were build before the 1971 and may contain lead paint. In 1996 the EPA required that all homebuyers and renters be made aware of lead based paints in homes. This legislation has helped millions of American families keep their children safe. Any comments Michele?
To conclude, I’m under no illusions that President Obama has done all he can in regard to our environment and energy policy. I’m horribly disappointed in his apparent belief that there’s such a thing as clean coal, for starters. But seriously – the journalists and the people with a voice who are in charge of vetting our candidates for elected office absolutely, positively MUST ask these questions about our environment in exactly the way posed just above: in a personal, what if it were you kind of way. It must be removed from this abstract and inaccurate rhetoric of “job-killing” regulations.
And now, as the fields are lining up for the 2012 elections, is the time to be asking.
Speaking of asking, do please consider joining the Moms Clean Air Force. Help fight for clean air for our kids. Every voice counts and is needed. If you haven’t already done so, you have through July 5th to email the EPA and show your support for the new Mercury and Air Toxics rule. Thank you.