The Chickahominy Report

News about Earth, Atmosphere, Water, and Life

A GOP war on the environment?

The new majority - plasticware is back.

One of the 112th Con­gress’s ear­li­est envi­ron­men­tal accom­plish­ments — bring­ing plas­tics back to the cafe­te­ria. (Bren­dan Buck)

MECHANICSVILLE, Va. — Envi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion pro­grams took a dis­pro­por­tion­ate hit in the recent con­gres­sion­al debate over H.R. 1, a con­tin­u­ing res­o­lu­tion to fund the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment the rest of the cur­rent fis­cal year.

The core res­o­lu­tion pro­posed to slash fund­ing for the Envi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency by 30 percent—the largest cut, per­cent­age-wise, of any fed­er­al gov­ern­ment agency. Amend­ments to H.R. 1 were even more dras­tic: among oth­er things, they would pro­hib­it the EPA from reg­u­lat­ing green­house gas­es and from imple­ment­ing water-pol­lu­tion con­trols in the Chesa­peake Bay water­shed and in Flori­da. In a small­er, yet sym­bol­i­cal­ly sig­nif­i­cant move, the House lead­er­ship, reversed for­mer poli­cies that pro­mot­ed recy­cling and reduced plas­tic waste inside the halls of Con­gress.

When the lat­ter pol­i­cy was imple­ment­ed, Bren­dan Buck, press sec­re­tary for Speak­er of the House John Boehn­er (R‑Ohio) tweet­ed, “The new major­i­ty – plas­ticware is back.”

The actions of this two-month-old Con­gress prompt the League of Con­ser­va­tion Vot­ers to do some­thing it rarely does: pro­duce a spe­cial edi­tion of its envi­ron­men­tal vot­ing score­card just for this one spend­ing bill rather than an entire ses­sion of Con­gress.

“The Con­tin­u­ing Resolution’s sweep­ing assaults on the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the wildlife and wild places Amer­i­cans hold dear make it the most anti-envi­ron­men­tal piece of leg­is­la­tion in recent mem­o­ry,” said League of Con­ser­va­tion Vot­ers Senior Vice Pres­i­dent of Gov­ern­ment Affairs Tier­nan Sit­ten­feld in a state­ment released on the League’s Web site. “The depth and breadth of the anti-envi­ron­men­tal amend­ments to this leg­is­la­tion is tru­ly astound­ing, which is why LCV has tak­en the extra­or­di­nary step of cre­at­ing a Con­tin­u­ing Res­o­lu­tion Spe­cial Edi­tion Nation­al Envi­ron­men­tal Score­card.”

TCR to won­der: Has the GOP has launched a war on the envi­ron­ment?

In order to answer the ques­tion, one must first estab­lish whether these poli­cies orig­i­nate pri­mar­i­ly from the Repub­li­can side of the aisle, or whether they rep­re­sent a more bipar­ti­san effort. To that end, a doc­u­ment cir­cu­lat­ed by the Chesa­peake Bay Foun­da­tion pro­vid­ed a great amount of raw data.

The doc­u­ment is a group let­ter by dozens of envi­ron­men­tal and sci­en­tif­ic orga­ni­za­tions orga­ni­za­tions (list­ed at the bot­tom of this post) that iden­ti­fied more than two dozen anti-envi­ron­men­tal amend­ments the groups col­lec­tive­ly opposed. An exam­i­na­tion of the League of Con­ser­va­tion Vot­ers score­card dis­cov­ered an addi­tion­al amend­ment that could be con­sid­ered anti-envi­ron­ment.

An exam­i­na­tion of the data reveals that all of the pro­vi­sions of con­cern orig­i­nat­ed from GOP rep­re­sen­ta­tives. Below is a list­ing of the rep­re­sen­ta­tives and the pro­vi­sions they intro­duced.

Rep. Todd Akin (R‑Mo.) intro­duced an amend­ment that would elim­i­nate fund­ing for the Glob­al Envi­ron­ment Facil­i­ty, which sup­ports inter­na­tion­al envi­ron­ment and devel­op projects.

Rep. Judy Big­gert (R‑Ill.) intro­duced an amend­ment that would elim­i­nate fund­ing for the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Ener­gy (ARPA‑E), which sup­ports clean ener­gy research.

Rep. Rob Bish­op (R‑Utah) intro­duced an amend­ment that would elim­i­nate fund­ing for the Nation­al Land­scape Con­ser­va­tion Sys­tem.

Rep. John Carter (R‑Texas) intro­duced amend­ments that would block or weak­en EPA enforce­ment of restric­tions on tox­ic air pol­lu­tion and elim­i­nate fund­ing for the salary and expens­es of the Assis­tant to the Pres­i­dent for Ener­gy and Cli­mate Change.

Rep. Jeff Flake (R‑Ariz.) intro­duced amend­ments that would reduce or elim­i­nate sup­port for inter­na­tion­al cli­mate pro­grams for adap­ta­tion and mit­i­ga­tion.

Rep. Cory Gard­ner (R‑Colo.) intro­duced an amend­ment that would pro­hib­it EPA from reg­u­lat­ing any use of chem­i­cals present in hunt­ing or fish­ing equip­ment.

Rep. Bob Good­lat­te (R‑Va.) intro­duced amend­ments that would pre­vent EPA from using fed­er­al funds to imple­ment the Chesa­peake Bay restora­tion plan.

Rep. Mor­gan Grif­fith (R‑Va.) and Bill John­son (R‑Ohio) intro­duced amend­ments that would pro­hib­it fed­er­al agen­cies from reg­u­lat­ing moun­tain-top removal min­ing.

Rep. Ralph Hall (R‑Texas) intro­duced one amend­ment that called for a Nation­al Acad­e­mies of Sci­ence study of haz­ardous air pol­lu­tion reg­u­la­tions and dis­cour­aged such reg­u­la­tions from being pro­mul­gat­ed for cement plants, indus­tri­al facil­i­ties and util­i­ties and intro­duced amend­ments that would block sci­en­tif­ic research into the effects of cli­mate change.

Rep. Dean Heller (R‑Nev.) intro­duced amend­ments that would halt fund­ing of the Antiq­ui­ties Act.

Rep. Wal­ly Herg­er (R‑Calif.) intro­duced an amend­ment that would pre­vent the USDA For­est Ser­vice from reg­u­lat­ing off-road-vehi­cle use.

Rep. Wal­ter Jones (R‑N.C.) intro­duced amend­ments that would pro­hib­it for­eign trav­el for NOAA law enforce­ment offi­cers (which would impede their abil­i­ty to reg­u­late ille­gal fish­ing activ­i­ty) and which would pro­hib­it new fish­ery reg­u­la­tions that are intend­ed to help rebuild declin­ing or col­lapsed fish­eries.

Rep. Raúl Labrador (R‑Idaho) intro­duced amend­ments that would block or weak­en EPA enforce­ment of restric­tions on tox­ic air pol­lu­tion from cement plants and indus­tri­al facil­i­ties, defund the Coun­cil on Envi­ron­men­tal Qual­i­ty and elim­i­nate any fund­ing for the imple­men­ta­tion of the Antiq­ui­ties Act.

Rep. Bob Lat­ta (R‑Ohio) intro­duced amend­ments that would cut $70 mil­lion from the Depart­ment of Ener­gy’s Ener­gy Effi­cien­cy and Renew­able Ener­gy pro­gram, cut $10 mil­lion from the Nation­al Insti­tute of Stan­dards and Tech­nol­o­gy’s Con­struc­tion of Research Facil­i­ties pro­gram and zero out fund­ing for inter­na­tion­al fam­i­ly plan­ning pro­grams.

Rep. Blaine Luetke­mey­er (R‑Mo.) intro­duced amend­ments that would pro­hib­it fund­ing for the study of the Mis­souri Riv­er ecosys­tem restora­tion projects autho­rized by Water Resources Devel­op­ment Act of 2009 and block sci­en­tif­ic research into the effects of cli­mate change.

Rep. Cyn­thia Lum­mis (R‑Wyo.) intro­duced amend­ments that would zero out fund­ing for the Land and Water Con­ser­va­tion Fund and under­mine abil­i­ty to enforce the Endan­gered Species Act and pro­tec­tions for wolves.

Rep. Tom McClin­tock (R‑Calif.) intro­duced amend­ments elim­i­nate fund­ing for the Mil­len­ni­um Chal­lenge Cor­po­ra­tion, defund the Bureau of Recla­ma­tion’s WaterS­mart Grant pro­gram, zero out fund­ing for Neotrop­i­cal Migra­to­ry Bird Con­ser­va­tion Act grants, pre­vent the Depart­ment of the Inte­ri­or from com­plet­ing sci­ence-based plan­ning for the coho salmon recov­ery (which includes dam removal) in the Kla­math Riv­er basin,  elim­i­nate pub­lic access to infor­ma­tion about whether or not dam removal is in the pub­lic inter­est and cut fund­ing for the Trop­i­cal For­est Con­ser­va­tion Act.

Rep. David McKin­ley (R‑W.Va.) intro­duced amend­ments that would pro­hib­it EPA from enforc­ing Sec­tion 404© of the Clean Water Act, pre­vent gov­ern­ment reg­u­la­tion of moun­tain-top removal min­ing, and weak­en pro­posed fed­er­al reg­u­la­tions regard­ing the treat­ment of haz­ardous waste.

Rep.  Kristi Noem (R‑S.D.) intro­duced an amend­ment that would end fed­er­al enforce­ment of clean air reg­u­la­tions.

Rep. Steve Pearce (R‑N.M.) was espe­cial­ly busy, intro­duc­ing more than one dozen amend­ments that would stop fund­ing of White House task forces, such as the Gulf Coast Recov­ery Fund; impede coor­di­na­tion and inte­gra­tion of inter­gov­ern­men­tal ini­tia­tives, such as the Gulf Ecosys­tem Restora­tion Task Force and Nation­al Ocean Coun­cil; under­mine abil­i­ty to enforce the Endan­gered Species Act; halt efforts to mit­i­gate or adapt to cli­mate change; elim­i­nate fund­ing for all pro­grams under fun­da­men­tal envi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion laws such as the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Safe Drink­ing Water Act and Endan­gered Species Act; elim­i­nate the land acqui­si­tion bud­get for the Bureau of Land Man­age­ment, the Fish and Wildlife Ser­vice, the Nation­al Park Ser­vice and the For­est Ser­vice; elim­i­nate all fund­ing for con­struc­tion projects  in the BLM, Fish and Wildlife Ser­vice and Nation­al Park Ser­vice bud­gets; block sci­en­tif­ic research into the effects of cli­mate change; impede the right of cit­i­zens to seek legal enforce­ment of pro­vi­sions of the Nation­al Envi­ron­men­tal Pol­i­cy Act and Endan­gered Species Act; and zero out fund­ing for the Land and Water Con­ser­va­tion Fund.

Rep. Ted Poe (R‑Texas) intro­duced an amend­ment to stop efforts to mit­i­gate or adapt to cli­mate change.

Rep. Mike Pom­peo (R‑Kans.) intro­duced an amend­ment to pre­vent the EPA from col­lect­ing data on green­house gas emis­sions from indus­tri­al sources.

Rep. Tom Rooney (R‑Fla.) intro­duced an amend­ment to pre­vent EPA from imple­ment­ing or enforc­ing water qual­i­ty stan­dards for Flori­da’s lakes, rivers and streams.

Rep. Steve Scalise (R‑La.) intro­duced an amend­ment to weak­en man­age­ment of oil and gas drilling off the out­er con­ti­nen­tal shelf.

Rep. Aaron Schock (R‑Ill.) intro­duced an amend­ment to pre­vent EPA from inves­ti­gat­ing the health effects of the her­bi­cide atrazine.

Rep. Cliff Stearns (R‑Fla.) intro­duced an amend­ment to weak­en pro­posed rules regard­ing the treat­ment of haz­ardous waste.

Rep. Don Young (R‑Alaska) intro­duced amend­ments to take away EPA’s author­i­ty to reg­u­late air emis­sions in the Arc­tic and remove the Envi­ron­men­tal Appeals Board­’s author­i­ty to review air per­mits relat­ed to drilling in the Arc­tic Ocean.

The League of Con­ser­va­tion vot­ers not­ed there were some envi­ron­men­tal­ly friend­ly amendments—all by Democ­rats.

Rep. Edward Markey (D‑Mass.) intro­duced an amend­ment to elim­i­nate sub­si­dies for off­shore oil and gas drilling.

Rep. Earl Blu­me­nauer (D‑Ore.) intro­duced an amend­ment to cap agri­cul­tur­al sub­si­dies, espe­cial­ly those to fac­to­ry farms.

Rep. Paul Tonko (D‑N.Y.) intro­duced an amend­ment to pre­vent diver­sion of fed­er­al fund­ing for a pro­gram that helps low-income fam­i­lies make their homes more ener­gy effi­cient.

Rep. Jay Inslee (D‑Wash.) intro­duced an amend­ment to increase fund­ing for the Depart­ment of Ener­gy’s ARPA‑E pro­gram.

Of the amend­ments cov­ered under the League of Con­ser­va­tion Vot­ers’ score­card, all of the GOP-spon­sored amend­ments passed, save one that sought to elim­i­nate the pres­i­den­t’s pow­er to des­ig­nate nation­al mon­u­ments under the Antiq­ui­ties Act. All of the Demo­c­rat-spon­sored amend­ments failed.

TCR decid­ed to look deep­er into the data to find out if the anti-envi­ron­men­t/pro-envi­ron­ment pat­tern evi­dent so far extend­ed beyond the mere intro­duc­tion and spon­sor­ship of amend­ments that weak­en or enhanced envi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion. For this, the vot­ing data record­ed in the League of Con­ser­va­tion Vot­ers’ score­card was extract­ed and ana­lyzed. The League assigns scores rang­ing from 0 to 100 to leg­is­la­tors based on their vot­ing records—as with most sports, a high­er score is bet­ter.

While Con­gress should have 435 vot­ing mem­bers, in fact only the data for 431 votes were exam­ined. Speak­er Boehn­er votes at his prerogative—he chose to not vote on any of these amend­ments. Rep. Gabrielle Gif­fords (R‑Ariz.) did not vote on any of the amend­ments because she is recov­er­ing from an attempt­ed assas­si­na­tion. Two rep­re­sen­ta­tives resigned: Jane Har­man (R‑Calif.) resigned in Feb­ru­ary to accept a posi­tion as head of the Woodrow Wil­son Inter­na­tion­al Cen­ter for Schol­ars, and Rep. Chris Lee (R‑N.Y.) resigned for rea­sons bet­ter left unsaid.

Har­man cast some votes, and has a score, but as the votes that took place after her res­ig­na­tion count against her score, TCR felt it was unfair to include it in the result­ing analy­sis.

Of the 431 rep­re­sen­ta­tives whose votes are includ­ed, 240 are Repub­li­cans and 191 are Democ­rats.  The aver­age League of Con­ser­va­tion Vot­ers’ score for the GOP rep­re­sen­ta­tives was 7.583 (±11.875), with a min­i­mum score of 0 and a max­i­mum of 76. The aver­age score for Demo­c­ra­t­ic rep­re­sen­ta­tives was 90.764 (±17.204), with a min­i­mum of 20 and a max­i­mum of 100. The dif­fer­ence is sta­tis­ti­cal­ly sig­nif­i­cant with a less than 1 in 1 bil­lion (yes, bil­lion with a “b”) chance of the result occur­ring by chance alone.

TCR also exam­ined scores by con­gres­sion­al del­e­ga­tion. Those of Maine (two rep­re­sen­ta­tives), Rhode Island (two rep­re­sen­ta­tives), and Ver­mont (one rep­re­sen­ta­tive) had per­fect scores: 100. Del­e­ga­tions from Mass­a­chu­setts, Hawaii, Con­necti­cut and Delaware aver­aged above 90. Ore­gon, Mary­land and New York aver­aged above 70, and New Jer­sey, New Mex­i­co, Wash­ing­ton and Cal­i­for­nia aver­aged above 60.

Wyoming, with one rep­re­sen­ta­tive, had the low­est score: 0. Kansas, with four rep­re­sen­ta­tives, had an aver­age score of 1. Oth­er states with deleg ations that with aver­age scores of 10 or less were Mon­tana, Alas­ka, Okla­homa, Ida­ho, North Dako­ta and Arkansas. The del­e­ga­tions of South Dako­ta, Nebras­ka, South Car­oli­na, Louisiana, Utah and Alaba­ma scored between 10 and 20. The aver­age scores of the del­e­ga­tions of West Vir­ginia, Texas, Indi­ana, Ten­nessee, Mis­sis­sip­pi and Flori­da fell between 20 and 30. The Ari­zona, Ohio, Mis­souri, Geor­gia, Min­neso­ta, Neva­da, Ken­tucky, Vir­ginia, Michi­gan, Penn­syl­va­nia and Wis­con­sin del­e­ga­tions scored between 30 and 40.

Not all Repub­li­cans are hap­py with the actions of the House GOP.

“The con­tin­u­ing res­o­lu­tion (CR) that the House passed ful­fills many items on the wish list of anti-envi­ron­men­tal rad­i­cals,” David Jenk­ins, vice pres­i­dent for gov­ern­ment and polit­i­cal affairs of the Repub­li­cans for Envi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion, said in a state­ment on the orga­ni­za­tion’s Web site. “Repub­li­cans were not elect­ed to gut envi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tions, and this leg­is­la­tion’s attempt to do so is at odds with the stew­ard­ship val­ues espoused by Amer­i­cans of all polit­i­cal stripes. They were elect­ed to prac­tice fis­cal respon­si­bil­i­ty. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, they are doing the for­mer and weasel­ing on the lat­ter. This duplic­i­ty brings with it the risk of seri­ous polit­i­cal con­se­quences for our par­ty in 2012 and beyond.”

TCR imag­ines Repub­li­can pio­neers such as Ulysses Grant, Theodore Roo­sevelt and even Richard Nixon would agree.


EDITOR’S NOTE: The sig­na­to­ries to the group let­ter were Alas­ka Wilder­ness League, Amer­i­can Bird Con­ser­van­cy, Amer­i­can Rivers, Cen­ter for Bio­log­i­cal Diver­si­ty, Cen­ter for Native Ecosys­tems, Cen­ter for Plant Con­ser­va­tion, Chesa­peake Bay Foun­da­tion, Clean Water Action, Con­ser­va­tion Lands Foun­da­tion, Con­ser­va­tion North­west, Defend­ers of Wildlife, Earth­jus­tice, Earth­works, Endan­gered Species Coali­tion, Envi­ron­ment Amer­i­ca, Envi­ron­men­tal Defense Fund, Envi­ron­men­tal Work­ing Group, Geos Insti­tute, Green­peace, Marine Con­ser­va­tion Biol­o­gy Insti­tute, Marine Fish Con­ser­va­tion Net­work, Nation­al Audubon Soci­ety • Nation­al Marine Sanc­tu­ary Foun­da­tion, Nation­al Wildlife Refuge Asso­ci­a­tion, Nat­ur­al Resources Defense Coun­cil, Ocean Con­ser­van­cy, Oceana, Ore­gon Wild, Pop­u­la­tion Action Inter­na­tion­al, Sier­ra Club, South­ern Envi­ron­men­tal Law Cen­ter, South­west Pub­lic Employ­ees for Envi­ron­men­tal Respon­si­bil­i­ty, The Wilder­ness Soci­ety, Trust for Pub­lic Land, Union of Con­cerned Sci­en­tists, World Wildlife Fund and Xerces Soci­ety for Inver­te­brate Con­ser­va­tion.

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1 Comment

  1. Some read­ers have asked me to look into Tea Par­ty influ­ence on these amend­ments. I cross­checked the names against a list of mem­bers of the House Tea Par­ty cau­cus. Eleven of the rep­re­sen­ta­tives men­tioned are Tea Par­ty cau­cus mem­bers, 17 are not.

    Sev­en of the afore­men­tioned rep­re­sen­ta­tives were first elect­ed in 2010 — iron­i­cal­ly, none of them are list­ed as mem­bers of the Tea par­ty cau­cus. Most (21) were first elect­ed in 2000 or lat­er. Three were first elect­ed in the 1980s, three in the 1990s, and one (Don Young of Alas­ka) was first elect­ed in 1972. Giv­en that a rep­re­sen­ta­tive’s term is two years, I am not sure there is any­thing all that sig­nif­i­cant in the pat­tern between length of ser­vice and sup­port for these mea­sures.

    Here’s a table with the full results:
    Year Elect­ed
    1972 1
    1974 0
    1976 0
    1978 0
    1980 1
    1982 0
    1984 0
    1986 1
    1988 1
    1990 0
    1992 1
    1994 1
    1996 0
    1998 1
    2000 2
    2002 3
    2004 1
    2006 2
    2008 6
    2010 7

    EDITOR’S NOTE: One rep­re­sen­ta­tive (Pearce) was first elect­ed in 2002, then ran for Sen­ate in 2008 and was defeat­ed. He ran again for the House in 2010 and won. I have only count­ed him once in this table, stick­ing with 2002 as the year he was first elect­ed.