Lewisboro Ledger.com: Uncommon sense: The Nan-ny state

(March 3, 2011)

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Written by Jeff Morris
Thursday, 03 March 2011

A few weeks ago I signed a letter sent to members of Congress regarding the Clean Air Act. Specifically, the letter expressed concern about efforts spearheaded by the new Republican House leadership to weaken rules designed to hold the nation’s biggest polluters to stricter standards. On top of this, Republicans incorporated drastic cuts in funding for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which enforces the act, into the ongoing appropriations bill for the Department of Defense and other government agencies.

I was certainly not alone; according to the American Lung Association, “1,882 physicians, nurses, respiratory therapists, certified asthma educators and other health and medical professionals from all 50 states and the District of Columbia” signed a letter that said, “From smog causing asthma attacks to toxic mercury harming children’s neurological development, far too many people face a constant threat from the air they breathe and the impacts of climate change.”

Another source said 4,500 scientists and health professionals sent letters to Congress asking that, for the good of the nation, it “fulfill the promise of clean, healthy air for all Americans to breathe. Support full implementation of the Clean Air Act and resist any efforts to weaken, delay or block progress toward a healthier future for all Americans.”

The scientists’ letter focused on the need to curb carbon emissions as soon as possible: “The scientific evidence overwhelmingly suggests that climate change poses a clear threat to public health. Numerous scientific studies ... show that if heat-trapping emissions continue unabated, global warming is likely to cause more extreme heat in our cities, severe water shortages, loss of species, hazards to coasts from sea level rise, and extreme weather. The economic and social costs of such impacts are potentially calamitous.”

Another letter explained: “In 1963, Congress passed the original Clean Air Act, ‘an Act to improve, strengthen, and accelerate programs for the prevention and abatement of air pollution.’ As you may know, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was created on May 2, 1971 in part to implement the various requirements included in the Clean Air Act. Since its inception, the EPA has been responsible for a variety of Clean Air Act programs to reduce air pollution nationwide. As a resident of New York, I appreciate the beauty of our Hudson Valley and the importance of being good stewards of our natural resources. I believe that the EPA serves a significant purpose ...”

Oh, I should point out that last excerpt was from the response I received from Rep. Nan Hayworth, newly installed in our 19th Congressional District. And boy, was it reassuring to know that we will continue to have representation dedicated to preserving our planet.

Rep. Hayworth continued, “I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to ensure that the agency is effective and efficient. While I do not serve on the major congressional committees with jurisdiction over the EPA, I intend to support common-sense environmental standards to protect our public health.”

Uh oh. What exactly does “common-sense” mean? Better read on.

“Like you, I want to protect our environment, including achieving a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. At the same time, I believe the best way to do this is through the actions of Congress, not the EPA. Congress is accountable to the American people and can better ensure that smart regulation balances the interests of everyone involved. An unaccountable bureaucracy imposing burdensome regulations hurts the economy and drives jobs overseas. I recently had the pleasure of attending the Bedford 2020 Environmental Action Day, where I had the opportunity to speak about these issues. Our communities and fellow citizens are taking steps towards protecting our environment on the local level, and this is crucial. I applaud and support these efforts.”

Oh, I see. We should only protect our environment at the local level. The EPA — founded by that noted radical environmentalist Richard Nixon — has apparently transformed (within a single paragraph) from an agency that serves a “significant purpose” to an “unaccountable bureaucracy.” Well, that makes perfect sense.

To show how much she wants to be a good steward of the environment, Rep. Hayworth not only voted to de-fund the EPA, but co-sponsored H.R. 97, the “Free Industry Act” introduced on Feb. 1, which, according to the official summary, amends the Clear Air Act to:

(1) exclude from the definition of the term “air pollutant” carbon dioxide, water vapor, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, or sulfur hexafluoride; and

(2) declare that nothing in the act shall be treated as authorizing or requiring the regulation of climate change or global warming.

Efforts to weaken the Clean Air Act have been bankrolled with millions of dollars from fossil fuel interests through their front group “Americans for Posterity,” founded by the infamous extreme right-wing billionaire Koch brothers of Koch Industries. But Rep. Hayworth assured me, “I appreciate hearing your views.”

Sure you do. Thanks so much.