Obama Pushes New Environmental Protections, So GOP Comes Out In Support Of… Pollution

There is a popular saying that if President Obama came out in favor of air, Republicans would stop breathing – well now they may get a chance to test that theory.

As part the Obama administration’s growing resolve to combat pollution and environmental destruction, the president announced an ambitious plan to curb greenhouse gases, clean up rivers and streams, and reduce the kind of toxins in the air that lead to major health problems like asthma. None of those things sound particularly controversial, right?

Wrong, say congressional Republicans led by Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) who has announced that she and her party will block any and all initiatives that attempt to address Obama’s environmental goals.

Crying “out of control regulation” (read: requiring coal companies not to pollute our water and air), Capito pledged to block:

— the administration’s plan to curb carbon pollution from coal-fired power plants.

— its proposal for stricter limits on smog-forming pollution linked to asthma and respiratory illness

— a separate rule setting the first national standards for waste generated from coal burned for electricity.

The rules are among a host of regulations that majority Republicans have targeted for repeal or delay as they confront President Barack Obama on a second-term priority: his environmental legacy, especially his efforts to reduce the pollution linked to global warming.

They also don’t want the government sticking its nose in the rivers, streams and wells around industrial sites despite several recent high-profile examples of dangerous chemical dumping and pollution. In just one instance just last year, in Sen. Capito’s state of West Virginia, a coal-processing company spilled 7,500 gallons of toxic chemicals into the region’s main water source. It affected 300,000 people’s ability to use water. Oops. You might think that would cause a politician to reconsider her “regulation is bad, business is good” mindset. Self-awareness doesn’t appear to be one of Capito’s strong suits.

It further proves the Republican Congress that Obama now has to deal with has jumped the shark entirely. Their hatred toward the president is so great that even things like clean water must be sacrificed if they think they it can hurt the Obama’s legacy. Their governing style isn’t to govern at all. It’s purely disruption.

Republicans say that trying to prevent pollution is a proven job killer. They ignore the more obvious fact that pollution is a proven literal killer. Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), who believes that climate change is a hoax and that the climate is up to God so why bother trying to protect it, was, of course, at the very forefront of the anti-environmental response, saying Obama and the EPA are “aggressively pushing an extreme and costly regulatory agenda.” Recently, Sen. Mitch McConnell was so upset that Obama was trying to curb carbon emissions that he wrote a letter to the governors of all 50 states asking that they ignore a new federal law requiring them to regulate their power plants.

If clean and air isn’t a politically neutral zone, what is? It’s hard to imagine this congress is capable of a single compromise with the president on any issue if “Let’s make sure people don’t die from drinking their tap water” has been met with wild-eyed conspiracies of EPA takeovers and the tyranny of making companies not pollute as much. At such a pivotal time for environmental protections, it’s unnerving to watch as one-half of the political spectrum thumbs their noses at Obama’s attempts to help and promptly shove their heads deep in the sand.

Feature image via White House/Flickr