Perhaps the greatest consequence of the Republican victory last week is the damage it will do to our environment
Following nationwide Republican victories in the Midterm Elections last week, it’s safe to say that the biggest losers will be Planet Earth and those that dwell upon it. It all starts with Mitch McConnell, Kentucky and coal.
The soon to be Senate Majority Leader from Kentucky, successfully campaigned for re-election by convincing voters that Barack Obama was waging a war on coal. Mitch McConnell stated early in the campaign that “A war on coal is a war on all of Kentucky.” The quote might as well have been his campaign slogan. In 1979, the coal industry employed roughly 47,000 people directly in Kentucky. That number has fallen to 19,000 today.
The so called war on coal however is not being waged by the President. The coal industry has been impaired over the years by cheaper alternative fossil fuels and new labor saving technologies. It isn’t Obama’s new EPA regulations that haven’t even been implemented yet. As challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes suggested “all of the jobs that have been lost in this state, they’ve happened on your watch, Senator.”
Still, two days after his victory over Grimes (who by the way was also a big coal supporter), Mitch McConnell said that his priority for serving Kentucky was “to try to do whatever I can to get the EPA reined in.”
McConnell doesn’t outright deny climate change, he’s one of those Republicans who duck the question by stating he isn’t a scientist and therefore has no opinion. While his chickenshit antics are deplorable, they pale in comparison to some of his colleagues.
The Republican midterm victory suggests that the Senate’s top environmental job is set to fall to Oklahoma Senator Jim Inhofe. Inhofe just happens to be one of the country’s biggest climate change deniers.
Inhofe refuted climate change science in 2012 by citing the Bible. “As long as the earth remains there will be seed time and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer, day and night. My point is, God’s still up there. The arrogance of people to think that we, human beings, would be able to change what He is doing in the climate is to me outrageous.”
Yes, the man who wrote the book “The Greatest Hoax: How the Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Your Future” is set to become the chairman of the senate environment and public works committee.
With the anti-science, anti-climate change party in control of the House and Senate, and with leadership roles in important committees, it’s going to be interesting to see how much of Barack Obama’s environmental legacy stays intact.
The Keystone XL Pipeline will likely be built after years of Obama refusing to give it the go ahead. The pipeline will deliver extremely dirty bitumen oil from the tar sands of Alberta to refineries in Texas where it will be processed and sold overseas.
When the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade deal gets finalized by the CEOs and corporate lobbyists that are writing it, it will likely be fast-tracked through Congress despite its environmental implications. If it is indeed the NAFTA on steroids that experts suggest, you can be sure environmental regulations will be impacted severely.
That leads us back to Mitch McConnell and his disdain for the Environmental Protection Agency. McConnell has pledged not to force a government shutdown over Obama’s new regulations for carbon dioxide emissions at coal-burning power plants. Instead he’s going for the jugular.
McConnell will try and defund the EPA through the budget that Congress writes up. “I think it is reasonable to assume we will use the power of the purse to push back against this overactive bureaucracy. Of course, we have a huge example of that in this state with the war on coal.”
It’s going to be a dark and stormy two years for climate change activists. American environmentalists are going to get a rough lesson of what it’s been like living in Canada under a Conservative Prime Minister, a Conservative House of Commons and Conservative Senate. At least the United States has a President that will hopefully wield his veto power with a green pen.
Afterthought. It was as recent as 2012 that I feared the worst on the environmental front. I saw interview on C-SPAN and read slim but powerful book “Reckless: The Political Assault on the American Environment” written by Associate Director of Communications for the Natural Resources Defense Council Bob Deans. It was a wake-up call, and I thought the assault had been turned back. Unfortunately, it has only been a brief quiet in what I dearly hope will be a ferocious fight to destroy the Republican assault for decades to come.
“Dark and stormy” indeed. I can see the darkness gathering all along the distant horizon interrupted by flashes of lightening and a rumble of thunder. The biting wind is picking up, soon to be hurling the rain sideways. Is it just a two year storm or does a tsunami lurk behind it set to swamp ashore on Nov. 2016?