The Tea Party War on the Environment

Released in April 2012, Reckless: The Political Assault on the American Environment, by Bob Dean details the Tea Party’s war on the environment.  For instance in 2011 the Republican led House of Representatives voted almost 200 times to undermine environmental and public health safeguards constituting the largest attack on environmental protections in America’s history.

Bob Dean, a veteran journalist currently working for the NRDC Action Fund, chronicles this and other Tea Party inspired attempts to undermine trusted environmental safeguards and describes the damage such measure would do to the environment and details the companies who would benefit most from the efforts.

In a time when the U.S. economy was in shambles, unemployment was at staggering levels and Americans were losing their investments, savings and homes, Tea Party inspired Republicans were spending their time trying to dismantle laws that have been protecting the environment for over 40 years.  Instead of addressing the global financial crisis and unregulated mortgage debt, leaders like House Majority Leader Eric Cantor claimed that the Environmental Protection Agency and its public health safeguards were the “job destroying” villains.

It is noteworthy to consider that Republicans were not always anti-environment.  Indeed the Republicans have a proud tradition of environmental conservation spanning from President Teddy Roosevelt to President George H.W. Bush who referred to the Clean Air Act of 1990 as one of his greatest legislative accomplishments.

The Clean Air Act had bipartisan support for decades, but now finds itself under attack by Tea Party House members set to gut this law completely in spite of the fact that 58 percent of Republican voters have said that they oppose House efforts to block the EPA from reducing air pollution from power plants, as noted in a 2011 poll conducted by the GS Strategy Group and Hart Research.

And this law is not some meaningless piece of government red tape.   The Clean Air Act is a law that has prevented more than 4,300,000 premature deaths since 1990. It’s a law that brought the percentage of American children with dangerous levels of lead in their blood down from 90 percent in the 1970s to 2 percent in 2000. And t’s a law that slashed the number of unhealthy air days in Los Angeles from more than 200 days in 1970 down to 28 days in 2003.

This attack on environmental policy is a new phenomenon among Republicans bred from fear of the Tea Party coupled with the massive amounts of money being tossed about in Washington by some of the country’s largest contributors to environmental pollution.   Dean reports that during the 2010 congressional elections organizations associated with the oil and gas industry spent $31.8 million dollars on campaign contributions with 77 percent of that going into the hands of conservative Republicans.

In spite of this, leading House Republicans and Tea Partiers want to halt this progress and return our country to the pollution filled days of the past .  Challengers to these politicians have a great opportunity this year to provide voters with a clear contrast:  go with clean air and blue skies or go with Tea Party and Tea Party inspired Republicans who advocate decreased environmental controls offering up piles of increased cash for large corporate polluters while providing smog for our children to breath.

Challengers to these Republicans can stand up this year for ordinary Americans and offer a vision of a cleaner, brighter and healthier future.  Americans of both parties want clean and safe water and air for their children and Democrats this year have a golden opportunity to make their case for kicking those Republicans out of the house this November.  Candidates need to remind voters how hard Tea Party controlled Republicans have worked to take away that future.  And Democrats need to be sure to get out the vote this year to insure victory in Congress and the White House.

We must all do our part this year to end this environmental war of terror led by the House Republican’s unprecedented and historic assault on environmental protections.

Click here for a great video of Dean speaking at the National Press Club in April.

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Samuel Warde

Samuel is a writer, social activist, and all-around troublemaker.
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