The Congressional War on Clean Air and Climate Science
Make no mistake: the climate denial and pro-pollution movement is engaged in a full-frontal assault against science, public health and our economic wellbeing. A quick look at the Republican leadership’s proposed budget for the rest of 2011 shows that they want to make dramatic cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency and other agencies on the front lines of the climate change fight. This, at a time when recent science confirms what we’ve known for a while – climate change is real, and it’s happening.
Two disheartening recent data points come from centers most have never heard of, but which are doing cutting-edge scientific research that is informing our view of climate disruptions. Earlier this month the National Snow and Ice Data Center reported that January’s sea ice coverage was the lowest on record, with air temps across much of the Arctic 4-11 degrees above normal. Meanwhile, the National Center for Atmospheric Research announced that new computer modeling confirms concerns that high-elevation critters will feel the heat from climate disruptions. From wolverines to lynx to pika, important species are at risk from rising temperatures and changing habitat conditions exacerbated by heat-trapping pollution.
One might think that this news might sound alarms bells for our elected officials in Washington. But instead of action to jumpstart America’s clean energy economy and create jobs by tackling climate impacts on the ground we’ve seen rancorous attacks against science and our ability to reduce carbon pollution.
There are at least seven, count ‘em seven, bills currently on the books within the Halls of Congress that take aim at our public health and economic well being by trying to gut the Clean Air Act and prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from implementing laws that regulate dangerous carbon pollution. (Although the authors of those bills should probably take a listen to their own constituents)
Industry lobbyists and their allies on Capitol Hill claim, as they did decades ago during the creation of the Clean Air Act, that the costs of these regulations would cripple the economy and kill jobs. However, the facts clearly point to the contrary. Industry cost estimates for past regulations were grossly exaggerated, and instead of hurting our economy actually kick started waves of technological innovation. Just last week Reps. Waxman and Rush released a new report from the EPA highlighting the clear public health and economic benefits from the Clean Air Act. Additional analyses further explain why polluters’ claims aren’t based in fact.
Further eroding the polluters’ claims is the fact that the very same EPA regs that polluters are decrying could actually create nearly 1.5 million jobs.
Just to step back a second, it should come as no surprise that those attacking our ability to breathe clean air and have a strong clean-energy economy would be blind to cold hard facts. After all, these are the same special interests and representatives who attack and ignore science, and benefit from the polluting status-quo.
With all of this nonsense taking place in Washington, D.C., it’s good to know that some states are taking climate change seriously. You read here about Iowa stepping up to the climate plate. And they aren’t alone. Recently Wisconsin and Washington took important steps forward to addressing carbon pollution and climate impacts. However helpful these reports may be though, meaningful action must ramp up in communities across the country if we are to dramatically reduce heat-trapping pollution and keep our communities and wildlands resilient in a warming world.
There are many little things that you can do to help fight climate change. You’ve already switched out your old light bulbs for modern energy efficient compact fluorescents, right? Now that you’ve changed light bulbs, it’s time to change minds on Capitol Hill. That’s the only way we have a fighting chance at beating back the anti-science, anti-health, anti-innovation machine running rampant in Washington.
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Paul J Everett