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Does This Matter? Eliminating the EPA?

March 9, 2011

Part of my series on determining whether issues matter, and if they do matter what we should do to address those issues.

Even if we can’t totally eliminate them, we can certainly curtail their power through oversight.

– Rep. Rich Nugent (R-FL)

As I have stated, there is a full court press going on across our nation on many fronts. The same men who backed Governor Walker in Wisconsin, fund the Tea Party, and back numerous astro-turf (fake grass-roots) organizations who are actually lobbying groups, are the Koch Brothers. One of their lobbying organizations is the Mercatus Group. I reported on this group recently:

The Mercatus Center, part of George Mason University, is one of the best-funded think tanks in the United States at the moment. It is listed as “sister organization” to the Institute of Humane Studies. “Mercatus generates knowledge and understanding of how institutions affect the freedom to prosper and holds organizations accountable for their impact on that freedom,” it states on its website.

The Mercatus Center was founded and is funded by the Koch Family Foundations. According to financial records, the Koch family has contributed more than thirty million dollars to George Mason, much of which has gone to the Mercatus Center, a nonprofit organization. Democratic strategist Rob Stein described the Mercatus Center as “ground zero for deregulation policy in Washington.”

The Mercatus Center’s rhetoric is shamefully misleading. These guys hav insinutated themselves into academia to give themselves legitmacy. This a strategy devised by David Koch after his unsuccesful run in presidenial politics. The approach has been a strategy of creating fronts that look like one thing but are in fact another.

The Mercatus Center has engaged in campaigns involving deregulation, especially environmental deregulation. It now fills the role once played by the economics department at Chicago University as the originator of extreme neoliberal ideas. Fourteen of the 23 regulations that George W Bush put on his hitlist were, according to the Wall Street Journal, first suggested by academics working at the Mercatus Centre.

Deregulation is all about allowing businesses to pollute the natural environment unchecked. This would allow further dumping of toxic waste into rivers, waterways, lakes, etc. The Kochs who own Georgia-Pacific would like that just fine. It would allow carbon-dioxide to be released into our air, unchecked. It would allow mining that strips the land and creates toxic slurry. Remember this story from 2008:

Treehugger reported: 2.6 million cubic yards (the equivalent of 525.2 million gallons, 48 times more than the Exxon Valdez spill by volume) of coal ash sludge broke through a dike of a 40-acre holding pond at TVA’s Kingston coal-fired power plant covering 400 acres up to six feet deep, damaging 12 homes and wrecking a train. Apart from the immediate physical damage, the issue is what toxic substances are in that sludge: Mercury, arsenic, lead, beryllium, cadmium. Though officials said the amounts of these poisons in the sludge could not be determined on Monday, they could (at the mild end) irritate skin or trigger allergies or (longer term) cause cancer or neurological problems.

This toxic sludge got into the Emory River, a tributary of the Clinch and Tennessee Rivers: The water supply for Chattanooga, Tennessee as well as millions of people living downstream in Alabama, Tennessee and Kentucky. TVA says that as yet the spill (which they are characterizing as a mudslide or landslide, but frankly it’s still toxic…) has not affected the water quality in the Emory River.

Think Progress reported today:House Republicans on the Energy and Commerce Committee held a hearing yesterday on a bill to strip the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of its power to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. Republicans nearly unanimously oppose letting the EPA address the threat of global warming, even though the Supreme Court ordered the EPA to regulate carbon pollution, but some conservatives want to go even further.

Despite the EPA’s widespread popularity, a number of conservative leaders and Republicans in Congress, led by GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich, are pushing to dismantle the entire agency. Rep. Joe Walsh (R-IL) told ThinkProgress the EPA “ought to be scrapped.” Rep. Pete Olson (R-TX) agreed, vowing the “we’re going to fight like heck” to get rid of the EPA. “Even if we can’t totally eliminate them,” Rep. Rich Nugent (R-FL) argued, “we can certainly curtail their power through oversight.”

Sourcewatch recently reported:The House Energy and Commerce Committee, under Republican control, is holding a hearing on Feb. 9, 2011 to discuss the bill, chaired by Whitfield, who has received $9,000 from Koch Industries since 2008. Koch operatives reportedly met with Rep. Upton on the first day of the 112th Congress to discuss such a bill. Upton received $20,000 from Koch employees in 2010, making them among his top 10 donors. Nine of the 12 new Republicans on the panel signed the Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity “No Climate Tax” pledge that opposed any government action to reduce carbon dioxide pollution.

Koch Industries Pollution Record:
Here’s just one: n 2009, Koch subsidiary Invista agreed to pay a $1.7 million civil penalty and spend up to $500 million to correct self-reported environmental violations at its facilities in seven states.

Click to see the list here

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