JUNE 21, 2012
In the House of Representatives, every day is Vote Against the Environment Day.
A new report by representatives Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Ed Markey (D-MA) found that in the last 18 months, the House has passed anti-environmental legislation 247 times, one for every day the House was in session.
Hey, at least they're consistent, right?
Waxman and Markey's report (you can read the whole thing here) said that one of out every five votes the House took in that time "were votes to undermine environmental protection."
These votes were hardly bi-partisan (surprise!). "During these roll calls, 94% of Republican members voted for the anti-environment position," Waxman and Markey wrote, "while 87% of Democratic members voted for the pro-environment position."
There were 77 votes to protections in the Clean Air Act, including new EPA regulations of mercury toxins. The House voted to weaken public lands protections, block climate change action, and to enrich the oil and gas industry (109 times, ka-ching!). There were 38 votes to prevent clean energy deployment and 12 votes to expedite review of the Keystone XL pipeline.
You get the picture (if you can see through the smog).
Now, call us skeptical, but this voting pattern seems to follow the same path as the millions of dollars flowing from the pollution industry into Congress. The Natural Resources Defense Council recently reported that eight companies spent "a combined $67 million lobbying Congress between 2010 and the first quarter of 2012" to block clean air standards.
Those eight companies -- American Electric Power (AEP), Ameren, DTE Energy, Energy Future Holdings, FirstEnergy, GenOn, PPL and Southern Company -- own coal-fired power plants that, the NRDC says, release 2.3 million tons of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and soot, along with more than 580 million tons of industrial carbon dioxide and 22,820 pounds of mercury, into the air in 2011.
"Their coal-fired power plants generated enough air pollution last year to contribute to as many as 10,300 deaths, 65,000 asthma attacks and incidents, 6,600 hospital and emergency room visits, and 3.4 million lost work-days," according to the NRDC.
This reminds me of an old joke -- a coal-fired power plant goes into a bar and asks for $113 billion in subsidies and tax breaks . . . .
OK, I forget the punch line, but there is an effort by Democrats in Congress to end the $113 billion in taxpayer-funded subsidies for the fossil fuel industries, which are at the same time the wealthiest and dirtiest industries on the planet.
Let your senators and representatives know that Congress needs to pass the End Polluter Welfare Act quick fast and in a hurry, while we still have air to breath.
And if you live in the Houston area, come join us June 30 as we stage a massive rally outside the HQ of the major oil companies to let them know that America wants clean, green energy.