Yes, the GOP won, in the short term. But I’d argue we all lose if the air we breathe is tainted with toxicity, if the water we drink is full of carcinogens, if the soil our food is grown is destroyed with heavy metals, or worse. So I wouldn’t want to start doing a jig in celebration. I’d rather mourn that so-called conservatives have no interest in conserving the only planet we have.
In negotiating the budget deal that averted a government shutdown, Democrats and the White House claimed a big victory in preventing Republicans from blocking a set of environmental regulations. But as details of the compromise became known Tuesday, it was clear Republicans had won deep reductions in spending at the Environmental Protection Agency.
Under the deal headed to House and Senate votes by the end of this week, the EPA’s 2011 budget would be reduced by 16% from 2010 spending, taking it to $8.7 billion.
That reflects the kind of tradeoffs each side made in the negotiations over the bill. The legislation doesn’t include most of the policy provisions that Republicans proposed to block funding for key administration priorities on health care, the environment and other issues. But Republicans found Democrats moving more than halfway in the compromise over how much to cut spending in the $1.05 trillion bill for the remaining six months of the 2011 fiscal year.
The EPA was also a major focus of both parties. The deal didn’t include a Republican-backed measure that would have stripped the agency of its authority to regulate greenhouse gases and other pollutants. But the bill cuts $1.6 billion from the agency.
“The Obama administration has dumped money into the EPA over the past two years, and what the American people have seen as a result is a slew of new regulations pouring out of the agency,” said Rep. Mike Simpson (R., Idaho). Mr. Simpson, chairman of the Interior subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee, helped fashion the EPA cut in the spending deal.
On Mr. Obama’s watch, the EPA’s budget has risen sharply, to $10.3 billion in the 2010 fiscal year, after years in which its funding hovered between $7.5 billion and $7.7 billion.
Most of the EPA cuts will reduce aid to help states implement health and environmental-protection laws. Mr. Obama had proposed cutting those programs, but only by about $200 million.
“These federal cuts make our job to provide a clean environment that much harder,” said R. Steven Brown, the agency’s executive director, who said the practical effect would be to derail roughly $1 billion in improvements to sewage-treatment and drinking-water plants.
The deal also cuts by $149 million, or 33%, a federal fund for buying land for environmental purposes. Programs related to climate change would be cut by $49 million, or 13%.
The position of the president’s special adviser on climate change would be eliminated.
(click here to continue reading GOP Wins Deep Cuts in Environment Spending – WSJ.com.)
Sickening. The EPA is already short-staffed and underfunded; intentionally gutted so as to not be able to enforce existing regulations. Now big businesses will have even less of a fear of being cited for destroying the environment. Again, we all lose.