This past year we witnessed an unrelenting attack on public safeguards. Since the release of the infamous “Cantor Memo” (which announced House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s attack plan), it seemed like whenever you turned on the TV news or opened your favorite fishwrap (go ahead and google that one kids) all you heard about was the GOP war on regulations.
And even though the Republican echo chamber was loud and livid, the actual truth about regulatory protections got out – a lot. As 2011 winds down, here is a look back on the best coverage on the struggle to preserve our vital safeguards.
One of the best overviews of the fight came from the article Public Citizen President Robert Weissman wrote for the October 31st edition of The Nation magazine, “The GOP’s Deregulation Obsession.”
The Huffington Post followed with interest and a few posts captured the story well: “Republican Nonsense on Regulation” by Jonathan Weiler, Jeffrey Hollender’s “The Harms of Regulation Phobia” and Marcia G. Yerman’s “National Poll says America Wants the EPA”
The New York Times had several good articles on the year’s regulatory battles, including a highly recommended analysis by Bruce Bartlett, a former senior policy adviser in the Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations, “Misrepresentations, Regulations and Jobs.”
photo: Owen Carey
In lieu of an actual jobs plan, Republicans this year decided to declare war on regulations. They made wild claims about how our public safeguards are a threat to the economy and further job growth, despite having exactly zero evidence to support their position.
And in their furious drive to give Big Business a free hand in polluting in the name of corporate profits, to date they have brought 191 Anti-Environment votes to the House floor in the 112th Congress. By a wide margin, this Congress is the most hostile to public health and safety in the history of the Republic.
A fascinating website has tracked the sorry history of this attack on public protections, and it highlights the unbelievable numbers:
The EPA today issued new safeguards to reduce mercury and other toxic air pollutants from the smokestacks of the nation’s aging fleet of coal and oil-fired power plants. In addition to lowering mercury emissions, the new rule will reduce other fine particle heavy metals like arsenic, chromium, and lead, saving thousands of lives and billions of dollars each year. EPA has estimated that the power plant air toxics rule will avoid between 6,800 and 17,000 premature deaths each year, and will result in annual savings of $48 to $140 billion.
Here’s our Texas office director’s take on it:
“For decades, the electric power industry has delayed cleanup and lobbied against public health rules designed to reduce pollution,” said Tom “Smitty” Smith, director of Public Citizen’s Texas office. “They have decided that it was cheaper to invest in politicians than pollution controls and we see the result here in Texas. The technology and pollution control equipment necessary to reduce emissions of mercury and other dangerous air toxics are widely available and are working at some power plants across the country. There is no reason for Americans — and Texans in particular — to continue to live with risks to their health and to the environment.”