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GOP Puts Environmental Rules on Chopping Block, Post Katrina/Rita

by Pamela Leavey

The GOP is never lacking in excuses or twisted logic to roll back environmental protections. It’s the crux of their agenda, to bolster the holdings of the energy giants that bankrolled the Bush cabal. They are at it again, this time with the excuse that rolling back environmental protections will help the U.S. recover from hurricane damage. The only recovery it might bring about will be lining the pockets of the oil and gas industries who already made record profits this year, while the prices at the pump for consumers keep going up… up… up.

Environmental groups are decrying the latest move from House Republicans.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee and the House Resources Committee are holding separate meetings to finalize legislation on Wednesday, with the aim of combining them into a single energy bill for the full House to debate next week.

The resources panel, led by Richard Pombo of California, wants to lift a ban on Florida offshore drilling, promote oil shale and sell a dozen national parks for energy development.

“This really has very little to do with the hurricanes or relief efforts or even refiners. This is deregulation pure and simple,” said John Walke of Natural Resources Defense Council.

Texan Joe Barton’s energy committee wants to expand U.S. gasoline production by loosening federal rules that limit pollution when refineries or coal-fired power plants are expanded. U.S. gasoline supplies have tightened since hurricanes Katrina and Rita roared across the U.S. Gulf Coast, closing up to one-fourth of the nation’s refining capacity.

House Republicans received a thumbs up from President George W. Bush on Monday when he said environmental rules and paperwork are obstacles holding up U.S. refinery expansions.

Bush specifically criticized the relatively obscure “new source review” rule administered by the Environmental Protection Agency as part of the Clean Air Act. It aims to protect public health by ensuring that refinery expansions do not increase acid rain and smog.

California Rep. Richard Pombo, is a real piece of work. He’s bent on Arctic Drilling and has a separate bill that “would open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling as well as letting states opt out of an offshore oil leasing ban.”

He also wants to sell 15 national parks for energy or commercial development, including the Mary McLeod Bethune House in Washington, D.C.

In an aside note to this issue, a snarky editorial in the Boston Herald today on John Kerry’s speech in Boston yesterday noted that Kerry “wants to reduce this nation’s dependence on foreign oil, but the word ANWR (Arctic National Wildlife Refuge) was never mentioned.” Obviously the editor for the Boston Herald missed John Kerry’s speech last week at the ANWR Rally. It would behoove the editor of the Boston Herald to read Kerry’s speech, because clearly this editor is as misinformed as the rest of the Republican Party on the benefits of drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. There are none.

The President Bush’s own Energy Information Administration found that drilling in the Arctic Refuge would only reduce oil imports from 62 percent to 60 percent of our total oil supply at its peak of production in 2020. Everyone should understand that in its peak year, for a single year, about 2020, drilling might, under an optimistic estimate, reduce our dependence by about 2 percent.

The price of oil will not drop. The price of energy will not drop. The price of gasoline will not drop. Our vulnerability to world prices and world unrest and dangerous regimes will not change. And after that single fleeting year, the flow of oil from the Refuge energy will start its decline as the reserves are depleted.

Rep. Richard Pombo of CA, could learn a few things from Kerry’s speech as well. The Bush administration, the Republican Party and the Energy cabal are out for only one thing – fattening their bank accounts at the risk of the health and well being of America and the world.

3 Responses to “GOP Puts Environmental Rules on Chopping Block, Post Katrina/Rita”

  1. Taking deep, slow breaths and rereading JFK Jr speech at


    “In the end, a healthy environment is the foundation of America’s economic success and its spiritual values, according to Kennedy.

    “The economy is a wholly owned subsidiary of the environment,” said Kennedy. “We’re protecting nature because nature enriches us.”

    It not only enriches us economically, he said, but it also connects us to our faith. The founders of all of the world’s major religions had their core moment of faith in the wilderness. “There we read the messages written into creation by the Creator at the very beginning of time,” he said. “Wilderness is the critical, defining element of the American character. This is where our values come from, ultimately from nature.”

  2. Thank you Ginny, that’s very good advice. I’ll do the same.

    These people will go down in history right next to names like Attila the Hun. In the meantime, it is within our power to spread ideas, like RFK Jr.s, and others.

    Besides, Jeb will have a fit if they go after the Florida coast, so that’s one good thing.

  3. And, as always, a link to a wonderful writer and activist, Terry Tempest Williams. http://www.coyoteclan.com/