Clothesline in Winter

Clothesline in Winter

Thursday, August 11, 2011

A Peek Inside the Sausage Factory

Sausages and laws – the old saying goes – share one thing in common: you’d rather not know how either were made.

And while I don’t pretend to have the political savvy to know what’s really going on in Congress in these dark days, a torturous read through one House bill has been enough to cost me my appetite for days.

This particular bill is called H.R. 2584, the House bill making appropriations for the Department of the Interior next year.  What, you ask, could be more boring? 

Don't protect! If it hurts our donors...
Well, Interior also covers the Environmental Protection Agency.  And this trigger-happy Congress has the EPA in its crosshairs.  It’s a given that funding will be cut.  That’s happening wherever powerful lobbies aren’t spending heavily to protect their pork.  But the political payoffs really show up in clauses that specifically forbid the EPA to act to protect our Father’s world and its people.

Take Section 428, for instance.  Here, our congressmen forbid the EPA from protecting the American people from greenhouse gases that come from livestock production, including dangerous heat-trapping methane and nitrous oxide.  These gases are 25-300 more climate-warming than CO2.

Or how about Section 429?  This one forbids the EPA from even measuring the amount of greenhouse gases from livestock manure systems.  Score a couple for big agribusiness donors.

Not a war.  Just "Clean Coal" doing its work.
But wait!  There are many more goodies for polluters in here.  Stream buffers to limit coal-mine water pollution are done away with in Sec. 432.  Coordination with the Army Corps of Engineers to protect Americans from strip-mining pollution is killed in Sec. 433. Then comes Sec. 434, which kills efforts to control fossil fuel combustion waste.   It’s closely followed by Sec. 436, which shackles the EPA’s ability to limit how much hot water coal and nuclear plants can discharge back into rivers.  Ch-ching!  Ch-ching!  Payback upon payback for those deserving people who brought you “Clean Coal.”

Actually, those sections are small potatoes.  Here’s the real polluter’s jackpot:  Section 431 forbids the EPA from regulating greenhouse gas emissions from any power plant at all if the reason is related to climate change.  What do you think the children of those congressmen will think about that when they come of age?  A law to specifically assure that nothing will be done to rescue their futures from climate change?  Somehow, coal-fired electric company campaign donors come before their own children.

Congress wants to decide these lawsuits
And as I reported several days ago, they couldn’t even resist going after kids in general.  Sec. 431 makes a shameless attempt to prejudge the lawsuits filed by Kids v. Global Warming against states that have refused to take action to protect their futures by limiting greenhouse gas emissions.  The politicians don’t mention the kids by name, but you can’t miss who they’re going after.  This section effectively tells young people who are seeking justice in court after hitting brick walls in the legislature: “Even if you prove your case to the judges, we won’t let it hurt the polluters who fund our campaigns.”

Last of all, if it weren’t so blatantly menacing, I’d find this final provision almost funny:  Section 426 requires the President of the United States to make a list of every single Federal program that has anything to do with climate change, together with all related expenditures, and report back within 120 days.  In other words: “If we failed to stamp out all knowledge and research about climate change this session, we’ll have the roadmap to finish you off next year.”

Have you lost your appetite for sausages yet?  Me too.  In my case, my congressman, sent to Washington from New Jersey’s 5th District, supports every one of these special interest payoffs.  And all of them will only hurt his constituents back home in Jersey.  But who’s watching such mundane matters?

Who’s watching?  The pollution lobbyists, that’s who.  And I think they’re getting their money’s worth from this Congress, don’t you?

Thanks for reading.  Don’t forget to tell your representative that gutting the EPA isn’t the way to do justice, or represent you.  And may God bless you.

J. Elwood

Woe to those who make unjust laws, to those who issue oppressive decrees, to deprive the poor of their rights and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people, making widows their prey and robbing the fatherless!  Isaiah 10:2-3

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