Monday, July 25, 2011

I Know What You Did This Summer


Somehow, like Jerry Lewis and a large number of other stupendously corrupt Republican scumbags, Hal Rogers (R-KY) has flown under the radar of the political blogosphere. Rogers, you may or may not remember, recently had the Daniel Boone Highway renamed after him and has vacuumed up more bribes from private industry than perhaps anyone in the House. As the chairman of the always powerful House Appropriations Committee, he's in a pretty persuasive position to ram through any industry-friendly bills as lucrative Thank Yous for all the bribes he's accepted from them over the years. (You'll note that in the last election cycle, the mining industry was Rogers' top industry contributor, a jump of nine places since 2008.)

But Rogers and the GOP are attempting to outdo themselves with HR 2584, which could easily be named the "Let's Gang-Bang Mother Nature Until She Screams Uncle" bill. And if this bill, sponsored by Mike Simpson of Idaho, ever gets passed in the House and Senate and signed into law, Mr. Rogers' neighborhood would turn into a typically Republican environmental hell stretching from coast to coast.

The White House issued its own breakdown (.pdf file) of HR 2584 and it makes for some pretty scary shit. Luckily, the Senate is still run by the Democrats and President Obama has already vowed to veto this bill even if it passes in both chambers if even just one industry-friendly provision remains in the bill.

Hal Rogers' Congressional district (KY-05), out of all 435, is #1 in mountaintop removal and stream damage caused by the coal industry, the very same industry that's the most generous among Rogers' corporate campaign contributors. And if you want to know what will happen to this country if this bill gets passed and signed into law, just look at the physical and emotional wellness of his district (.pdf file, page 5). Out of all 435 congressional districts, Rogers' is:

  • 435th in life expectancy

  • 435th in physical health

  • 435th in overall well-being

  • 435th in emotional health

  • Overall, Kentucky is ranked next-to-last out of all 50 states overall and ranked dead last in healthy behavior. Frankly, it's amazing that the hicks in Kentucky's 5th congressional district have elected this walking cancer to 16 consecutive terms.

    Some of the most frightening provisions in this bill, according to the White House:

  • The eradication of user inspection fees that would fund inspection of gas and oil facilities. These inspection fees are nominal and easily affordable for energy corporations but HR2584 would pass the cost onto the American taxpayer. So much for the Republican mantra of no new taxes.

  • Cutting grants for the North American Wetlands Conservation State and Tribal Wildlife grants, as well as the termination of Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act. This would make it much harder for state and private agencies to protect game and non-game species and their habitats.

  • Cutting funding for FWS operations, which would make it easier for private industry to remain noncompliant with FWS rules and regulations, would slow down infrastructure building and repair and other projects that would benefit state and municipal governments.

  • "The bill does not provide funding to begin the acquisition of the next Landsat satellite, ending a 40-year stream of data that is used by Federal, State, local and Tribal governments and the private sector to make informed land and resource management decisions and to assess the impacts of those decisions over time." In short, let's end a 40 year-long tradition of not keeping Native Americans in the dark about the quality of their land.

  • Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). "The funding in the bill for LWCF programs would deny willing sellers the opportunity to sell land holdings, and severely impair the ability of Federal, State, and local officials, as well as private landowners, to preserve and manage areas important to wildlife, recreationalists, and sportsmen and women." Denying landowners the right to sell their own land???

  • Fire Suppression programs. The funding for this bill would be lower than the previous ten year average.

  • The EPA's budget would be further reduced to even lower levels than it was under the Bush junta. This would directly affect the Great Lakes and the Chesapeake Bay, among other areas.

  • HR 2584 would cut funding for individual states to conduct air and water quality reports that would, again, impact on human and animal life.

  • "The reductions in funding for GHG programs and regulations severely limit actions the Administration could take under current law to permit, control, and monitor greenhouse gases and would block EPA's efforts to reduce GHG emissions from vehicles and large stationary sources." Essentially, a huge giveaway to any polluting corporation, which covers virtually the entire energy industry plus the auto industry.

  • Probably the 2nd scariest provision in this bill: "Responsible Energy Development and Oil Spill Response. The level of resources in the bill would eliminate efforts to increase the frequency of environmental compliance inspections at oil facilities. In addition, the bill does not include emergency transfer authority necessary to improve the Government's ability to prevent and respond to oil spills." Have we already forgotten the Deepwater Horizon and the Gulf Coast? I guess so.

  • What gets my vote for the scariest element of HR 2584: Allowing mining companies to legally claim over 1,000,000 acres around Grand Canyon National Park for uranium mining, which could easily pollute with radioactive contaminants the Colorado River, which runs into the Hoover Dam, which supplies drinking water to over 25,000,000 Americans or about 8% of the population.

  • Add to that delightful mix the slower cleanup of places like Puget Sound, trapped greenhouse gases resulting in worse heat waves for Texas, mountaintop removal, etc. Overall, this bill would adversely affect at least four national parks and countless vacation areas and possibly even your own back yard.

    If you care at all about the environment, especially those in our national parks that even now being encroached upon by private industry and their puppets in Congress, then write to your elected officials because, despite the administration's public opposition to this, I don't trust Obama to do the right thing and not sign this bill into law even if it passes the House and Senate.

    1 Comments:

    At July 27, 2011 at 1:35 PM, Anonymous harv said...

    Still a regular reader. Don't know what to say . . . can't believe you can't get a job with MSNBC, Comedy Central, etc.

     

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