Friday, November 11, 2011

Newt Gingrich Wants To Abolish The EPA & Any Gov. Regulations That Get In His Way

By Theodora Filis

Newt Gingrich said the EPA should be abolished – the Republican party quickly agreed and is making sure it happens.

In June 2011, House Republicans passed the Agriculture Appropriations bill cutting $87 million from the FDA and $35 million from the USDA food inspection program. Republican Congressman Jack Kingston defended the legislation saying, “Do we believe that McDonald’s and Kentucky Fried Chicken…aren’t concerned about food safety? The food supply in America is very safe because the private sector self-polices.”

I wonder what Congressman Kingston would say about the effectiveness of self-policing with the recent outbreaks of e-coil throughout the US in the past few months? Let's not mention last year’s salmonella outbreak in eggs and spinach.

Every year in the US, one out of every six people get sick from food contamination, and 3,000 people eventually die from a food-borne illness. Not the best example for an industry that GOP is convinced can police itself.

In September, following weeks of intense debates in Washington, DC over ways to jump start the economy, US Senator Susan Collins said, “America needs a time out from the regulations that discourage job creation and hurt our economy – Republicans insist that government “over-regulation” is the biggest factor standing in the way of job growth. Collins claimed that federal agencies are drawing up more than 4,200 new rules, 845 of which affect small businesses, and cited proposed EPA rule on boiler emissions.

Last December, the EPA came out with a statement saying greenhouse gasses put the environment and the health of the public at risk, moving the agency toward regulating those gasses as part of an effort to battle climate change.

From 2001 through June 2011, the fracking industry gave $20.5 million to current members of Congress and spent $726 million on lobbying. Republicans immediately responded to the news with statements opposing the decision.

"It's unsurprising and disappointing that the EPA has decided to push though the Endangerment finding based purely on political calculations and not based on science," said House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Ranking Member Darrell Issa. "Earlier this year, EPA set up internal barriers to stifle dissent and is now ignoring serious accusations to the science upon which the endangerment finding is based."

Indiana's Mike Pence, Chairman of the House Republican Conference, suggested – again - the EPA was going to "kill jobs." The natural gas industry’s fight against regulation has gotten important help at the state level from the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).  As documented in an August 2011 Common Cause report, ALEC generates and lobbies for hundreds of model bills every year despite its status as a tax-exempt 501 (c)(3) organization. Prominent financial backers of ALEC’s activities include the American Petroleum Institute, ExxonMobil, and Koch Industries, owner of the largest network of natural gastransmitting pipelines in the country. 

"This is nothing more than an attempt by the administration to build international support for a binding political agreement in Copenhagen," he said. "It seems liberal Democrats will stop at nothing to overcome the strong objections of the American people to a cap and tax system."

EPA administrator, Lisa Jackson, held a news conference in December discussing and defending the EPA's decision.

"The overwhelming amount of scientific studies show that the threat is real, as does the evidence before our very eyes, polar ice caps crumbling into the oceans, changing migratory patterns of animals and broader ranges for deadly diseases, historic droughts, more powerful storms and disappearing coastlines," she said.

Jackson added that "this administration will not ignore science or the law any longer."

Shell Oil Company has claimed responsibility for oil spills dating back to 2008. However, in keeping with oil company policies, they grossly under reported the amount – 275 times more than they had previously reported. Although the US has had its own oil spills – all grossly under reported – without EPA regulations, the US would look like Nigeria and other countries, at least, to a certain extent. So, unless you want the US to look like Nigeria, Ecuador and other such places – stand behind the EPA.

Could the Republican's haste to abolish government regulatory agencies come from the love of all the money they make ensuring GMOs, pesticides, and frankenfoods make it in to the hands of farmers and consumers worldwide? Could it come from pressure by their buddies in the oil and gas industries who fill their pockets and fund their elections?

When the EPA announced in 2000 that it was designing a study to investigate the potential for groundwater contamination from hydraulic fracturing, the United States Department of Energy warned that regulations could hinder economic growth in the industry.
I sincerely doubt it comes from their love of the American people and the heart-felt hope that all American's are gainfully employed, healthy and safe.When released in 2004, the EPA study concluded that the process is environmentally harmless, and then-Vice President Dick Cheney and his former employer Halliburton used this finding to insert language into the 2005 Energy Policy Act to exempt fracking from regulation under the Safe Drinking Water Act. Current members of Congress who voted for this bill have received an average of $73,433 from industry, while current members who voted against the bill have received an average of $10,894.  

James Browning and Howard Kaplan of Common Cause, Holding Power Accountable, Nov. 10, 2011