'Reckless' best label for tea party behavior
Written by Chad Tolman
The radical right is doing things that are contrary to the best interests of the United States and Delaware.
H.R. 2584, the Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2012, is the most shameless assault on the environment and on the health and welfare of the American people that I have ever seen.
Under the guise of reducing regulatory burdens it:
• Cuts funding to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) by $1.8 billion (17 percent), while restoring $55 million in oil and gas subsidies.
• Cuts the U.S. Fish and Wildlife budget by 30 percent.
• Reduces the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) budget by 18 percent from the President's 2012 budget and wholly eliminates funding for NOAA's climate service.
• Cuts the Land and Water Conservation Fund by 80 percent -- its lowest level in the program's history.
• Eliminates funding to list new endangered species.
There are also a number of specific provisions that prevent the protection of public health. I was particularly struck by Section 434 on coal combustion ash, which is known to contain a number of toxic and heavy metals, including arsenic, lead, thallium, barium, cadmium, chromium, mercury, and nickel (See Coal Ash -- The toxic threat to our health and environment at: www.psr.org/assets/pdfs/coal-ash.pdf):
"None of the funds made available by this Act may be used by the Environmental Protection Agency to develop, propose, finalize, implement, administer, or enforce any regulation that identifies or lists fossil fuel combustion waste as hazardous waste subject to regulation under subtitle C of the Solid Waste Disposal Act [...] or otherwise makes fossil fuel combustion waste subject to regulation ..."
Then there is Section 453 on mobile source emissions, even though U.S. auto manufacturers are now ready to greatly improve gasoline mileage, since the Supreme Court gave EPA authority under the Clean Air Act:
"None of the funds made available under this Act shall be used --
(1) to prepare, propose, promulgate, finalize, implement, or enforce any regulation pursuant to section 202 of the Clean Air Act [...] regarding the regulation of any greenhouse gas emissions from new motor vehicles or new motor vehicle engines that are manufactured after model year 2016 to address climate change."
Fortunately, Delaware U.S. Rep. John Carney is opposing the many bad features of this bill.
If it does pass the House (and the tea party probably has the votes to do it), it can still be stopped in the Senate. Please contact Rep. Carney and Sens. Coons and Carper to thank them for their support of responsible legislative action to address the deficit without endangering the health and welfare of our citizens.
Not to be outdone, the tea party in Delaware is actively pursuing its radical agenda to oppose any action at the state level that would interfere with record-breaking profits by fossil fuel industries.
It supported HB 86 in the Delaware legislature, which would have required the state to withdraw from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) -- a regional effort by 10 Northeastern states from Maryland to Maine, including Delaware, to begin reducing carbon emissions from large power plants.
Though RGGI costs most homeowners less than a dollar a month, it has produced some significant funding for the Sustainable Energy Utility, for improving energy efficiency, and for developing solar power.
The tea party has also opposed the work of the state's Renewable Energy Task Force, which promotes renewable energy development in the state, and the state's Sea Level Rise Advisory Committee, which is developing an adaptation plan to deal with the threat of sea level rise, which could reach 5 feet or more by 2100 and threaten homes, communities, businesses, roads, bridges, waste water treatment plants and emergency evacuation routes.
In the future the tea party will no doubt try to tear down our Renewable Portfolio Standard, which requires that Delaware get 20 percent of its electricity from renewable energy sources by 2019, with a 2 percent carve out for solar power.
Consistent with its dedication to burning fossil fuels, the tea party people refuse to believe the scientific consensus on climate change. They remind me of those in the 16th century who refused to believe that the earth rotates around the sun.
Chad Tolman is energy chair of the Delaware Chapter of the Sierra Club.