Thursday, February 2, 2017

The GOP Starts Gutting Environmental Protections and Transparency

Republicans in Congress have removed obstacles preventing the coal industry from polluting streams. Thanks to the GOP initiative, the coal industry will soon be allowed to resume dumping its debris, including coal ash, into these waterways.  Such debris poses a serious health hazard to both wildlife and humans. This action follows Trump's recent Executive Order that signals his administration's intent to move forward with halted fossil fuel pipelines. Consistent with this objective there has been an assault on the camp of those protesting the Dakota Access pipeline.

These are but a few of the most recent attacks against the environment and our climate from Trump and the GOP. It is hard to keep up with these egregious assaults on America from the country's elected officials and perhaps that is the idea.

On Wednesday, February 1 House Republicans invoked the obscure Congressional Review Act that removes the need for a 60-vote threshold in the Senate. It applies to all regulations imposed since last June and will prevent the executive branch from imposing similar regulations in the future. The act has only been used once before and that was by the George W. Bush administration to overturn a Clinton-era rule.

The House voted to end a rule that prevented coal debris from being dumped into streams. With a vote of 228-194, the House approved the measure largely along party lines (9 Republicans voted against repeal and 4 Democrats supported it). The vote overturns an Interior Department rule announced in December that was intended to protect 6,000 miles of streams and 52,000 acres of forests.

As reported by Time, Arizona Rep. Raul Grijalva, senior Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee, said repealing the stream protection rule would "sicken and kill the very people Donald Trump falsely promised to help," coal miners in West Virginia and other states.

Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Ky., displayed a bottle of brownish water he said came from a constituent's well near a surface coal mine. He challenged lawmakers to drink from it and said the stream rule was one of the only safety measures protecting people in coal country.

In a move designed to reverse transparency and chip away at what remains of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial oversight law, the GOP also voted to rescind a rule that requires companies to disclose payments to foreign governments related to the extractive industries. This vote passed by a similar margin (235 to 187). This will allow corrupt governments to receive payments without public knowledge precluding oversight.

As explained by Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., the real reason to repeal the disclosure rule was "to help corrupt governments steal money from their people."

Related
GOP Trying to Kill the EPA
Republicans to Sell Off Public Lands and Strip Powers from Federal Agencies
Trump's War against the EPA has Begun
The Importance and the Power of Protest: Why We Must Stand Up to Trump
Pipelines Reborn: They're Back Thanks to Trump
Camps Raided as Trump Moves Forward with DAPL
The Obama Legacy and How Trump Signals the End of an Era (Videos)
Trump's Inauguration Met with Protests as Darkness Officially Descends

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