Friday, March 27, 2015

Carbon Reduction Efforts Under Attack from Republicans

Republicans have fired multiple salvos in their proxy war against the Obama administration's carbon reduction efforts. Under the pretext of deficit reduction Republicans are using their majorities in the House and the Senate to support the fossil fuel industry and push forward a slate of anti-environment amendments.

After the midterms it became obvious that Republicans would use their new-found power to redouble their efforts to cripple environmental protections and climate change mitigation efforts. It was known that their primary target would be the EPA. Although their authority is limited by the President's veto power, they are nonetheless deploying their arsenal against all forms of environmental protections.

Voting along party lines the House and the Senate have already approved non-binding budget blueprints. This effort foreshadows a conflict that can be expected to endure throughout the remainder of the President Obama's term.

In what is colloquially called a "vote-a-rama" senators debated and voted on a pile of nonbinding fiscal 2016 budget amendments yesterday and into the wee hours this morning. While the votes have very little real world impact, they do reveal the Republicans' policy position.

It is no secret that Republicans are shills for the fossil fuel industry so it should come as not surprise that they have put forth a raft of dirty air and dirty energy votes. They have already attacked the EPA's ability to implement the Clean Power Plan, and they have even tried to prevent the EPA from using scientific evidence.

A successful amendment put forth by Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) rejected the Obama administration's efforts to reduce coal pollution.

An amendment by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) calling on Congress to address carbon emissions was defeated by Republicans who rejected the call for policies "protecting Americans from the impacts of human-induced climate change, which include action on policies that reduce emissions by the amounts that the scientific community says are needed to avert catastrophic climate change."

Before the vote Sanders said that Republicans, "continue to show themselves to be the anti-science party" when it comes to climate change. However, five Republicans crossed the aisle to vote for the Sanders' amendment. This is an attempt to address the concerns of their own constituents.

The five Republicans who voted for the Sanders' amendment include Sens. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, Mark Kirk of Illinois and Rob Portman of Ohio all of whom are up for reelection next year. Portman has proposed an amendment that would encourage states to say "no" to the EPA's Clean Power Plan. The two remaining senators Susan Collins of Maine, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina have a history of voting for carbon legislation.

Another successful amendment came from Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.). His motion prohibits the enactment of a federal carbon tax. 

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) said of the Republican position on climate change, "They've got no good place to go. They're somewhere between 'This is a hoax' and 'I'm not a scientist,'"

Republicans oppose the EPA clean air mandate just as they oppose efforts to provide assistance to those preparing for and recovering from the devastation of climate change-related events. They also reject efforts to reduce climate change causing carbon.

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