U.S. House blocks environmental protections

Posted by By at 25 October, at 11 : 02 AM Print

Martin Brashir, an MSNBC talking head, expended a few minutes of exhalation Monday afternoon deriding Rick Perry for his “love” of guns. Perry was revealed in a news clip talking about (I may be paraphrasing slightly) “a man and his gun, then a father and his son and their guns, than a father and his son and his daughter and their guns.”

It turns out, Perry and his kids and their guns like to hunt or spend a few hours “plinking.” One might expect that sort of tradition among Texans, though I’d wager there are a significant number of Texans in Brashir’s camp.

For the TV anchor’s part, he admitted having to “resort to Wikipedia” to learn that plinking is shooting at targets and tin cans, etc.

Wherein lies an interesting statement about being out of touch, and this time (as often, unfortunately) it’s the media dude who doesn’t understand. Lots of people like lots of things lots of other people don’t understand the need for. Kids get kicked out of school for carrying a pocket knife that was part of getting dressed where I was raised.

Get after Perry for his bringing back the “birther” issue, or the foolishness of his flat tax, or his state’s use of the death penalty – things that have something to do with the philosophies he’ll pursue from the Oval Office. But unless he’s shooting up the town on Saturday night, the remarks about his guns showed more about Brashir’s parochial upbringing than Perry’s fitness, or lack of, for presidential office.

For instance, a week ago Friday last, the U.S. House passed a bill that moves coal ash regulation to the states from the Environmental Protection Agency. It turns out, according to the House Energy and Commerce Committee, the House has passed 168 votes this year “to block action to address climate change, to halt efforts to reduce air and water pollution, to undermine protections for public lands and coastal areas, and to weaken the protection of the environment in other ways.”

Disclaimer: The House is Republican controlled, and the ranking member of the aforementioned committee is Democrat Henry Waxman, of California. Support for the coal ash bill included 230 Republicans and 37 Democrats, with three Republicans voting No and 141 Democrats voting No.

HR 2273, the Coal Residuals and Management Act, would, if passed by the senate and signed by Pres. Obama, treat the effluent of coal-burning plants as though it were household kitchen trash, and specifically prohibit calling the stuff hazardous material.

In February, the House passed a bill that cut funding by 35 percent for renewable energy and energy efficiency programs, and completely cut funding for state home weatherization programs. The bill, HR 1, also would cut funding for loan guarantees to companies involved in renewable energy, such as building wind generators and solar power arrays – an interesting approach when many of the same legislators decry a growing Chinese lead in those industries.

Saving money by shutting down the EPA, or the industries (other than natural gas producers) involved in replacing, at least in part, our dependence on fossil fuels, is false economy.

Lately, for instance, we are besieged by television advertising touting the cleanliness of natural gas. Natural gas burns cleaner in cars and buses, but at least three studies indicate natural gas production to be more polluting than burning gasoline and diesel fuel.

I am old enough to know about the cost of cleaning up oil spills on our coasts, and recovering lakes in New England from the affects of acid rain from Pennsylvania coal-burning electricity plants. And I have learned from my parents, grandparents and history books about how our government (our tax money) has helped with those cleanups, helped put telephones and electricity in rural homes, and built dams and highways that individual towns, counties and states could never afford.

It seems from here those issues are way more important than whether someone enjoys spending time with his kids, hunting or shooting holes in tin cans.

Click here for the complete Energy and Commerce Committee report.

Click here to see how individual representatives voted on the Coal Ash bill.

Photo by Petra M.V.

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This post was written by:
- who has written 169 posts for Rock The Capital
John Messeder is an award winning journalist with more than 35 years experience writing about education, environment and local government issues. He has lived in Maine, Florida, California and Alaska, and, by temporary turns, numerous places in between. John also is an accomplished photographer, and avid hiker, conservationist, oral history buff, and author of several books he has not yet got 'round to writing. He lives in Adams County, Pa., just over a hill from Gettysburg, with his wife and Golden Retriever. He may be contacted at john@JohnMesseder.com - Email jmesseder

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