The top contenders for the Republican presidential nomination have repeatedly indicated extreme anti-environmental policy preferences, demonstrating to an unprecedented degree lack of concern for the tremendous health costs of pollution. (Note: A study led by the former — now deceased — head of the Harvard Medical School found that the health & environmental costs of coal, alone, come to approximately $500 billion a year in the United States.)
In the latest news on this front, the National Environmental Scorecard from the League of Conservation Voters found that presidential nominee contenders Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) voted against environmental protection and improvement 100% of the time. They voted against the environment, and thus public health, not once, not twice, but dozens of times. Any time they got the chance.
Note that this isn’t a big departure from the party as a whole. House Republicans got a score of 3% from the scorecard, while Senate Republicans got a score of 5%.
“These votes include favoring the now-rejected Keystone XL Pipeline, supporting a law that would expedite applications to drill on public lands, and voting for a resolution blocking the Clean Power Plan, among dozens of others,” Climate Progress notes. Going on:
“Rubio and Cruz are well-known climate-deniers. Cruz, chairman of the Senate’s Subcommittee on Space, Science, and Competitiveness, held a hearing to discuss the reality of human-caused climate change in December. “There has been no significant global warming in the past 18 years,” Cruz said then, just a month before the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and NASA announced that 2015 was the hottest year on record globally. Rubio, for his part, said in 2014 that he did not “believe that human activity is causing these dramatic changes to our climate the way these scientists are portraying it.””
Ah, yes, those pesky, deceitful scientists. Everyone knows they’re just pulling our collective leg, right? Politicians who receive millions of dollars from fossil fuel industries and spend their days and nights with lobbyists intent on brainwashing them, on the other hand, have a much more accurate sense of the deep and rigorous science of our climate and why it has been heating up directly in step with CO2 emissions….
What’s the point of science anyway? Why don’t we just let politicians decide why the world works like it does?
Sadly, this Congress is the most anti-environmental Congress in US history. And the presidential debates don’t indicate things will get any better. Donald Trump, the Republican frontrunner, stated last night in the latest Republican presidential primary debate when talking about what cuts he would make to adjust for massive tax cuts: “Environmental protection. We waste all of this money.”
The moderator, by the way, noted that an analysis from the Independent Tax Foundation found that Trump’s tax cuts (which would be larger than Ronald Reagan’s and George W. Bush’s) would cost the country ~$10 trillion, even taking into account projected economic benefits from lower taxes. He also noted that the entire Department of Education (which Trump seems set on defunding as well as the EPA) uses ~$68 billion of federal money and the EPA uses ~$8 billion, together coming to ~$76 billion, nowhere close to the current deficit of ~$544 billion, nor the $10 trillion figure mentioned above (the cost to the country from Trump’s proposed tax cuts). I don’t think there’s any wonder why Trump indicated last week that he loved “the poorly educated.”
Meanwhile, establishment Republicans have been terrified of Trump getting the nomination and possibly becoming president, and express bewilderment about how popular Trump has become in their party. It’s really no surprise to anyone who pays attention, though: Republican congresspeople, Republican presidential candidates, and conservative media have been demonizing Obama and Democrats practically nonstop for the past ~8 years. They’ve fostered more and more hate and frustration for years, and Trump has tapped into that to destroy his opponents in the Republican primary. The voters aren’t particularly interested in policy details, nor how accurate their leaders’ statements are. Republican leaders seem astonished at how much Trump gets away with, but they have fostered this type of involvement from the voters for decades.
Anyone who looks into the effects of Reaganomics and trickle-down economics with an open mind can easily discover that these ideological approaches to the US economy have greatly damaged the middle class and dramatically increased inequality in the country.
Anyone who thinks that defunding the EPA and triggering pollution in US cities like we see in Beijing and New Delhi is a good idea has lost what seem to be any critical thinking skills.
Anyone who thinks that less regulation of Wall Street will not result in another financial crisis, that less regulation of polluters will somehow save the country money, that less funding for education will somehow “make America great again” and not result in a further dumbing down of American understanding of the economy, healthcare, and climate science… well, I’ll be a little disappointed if anyone chimes in with such beliefs.
“Ironically, surveys of Republicans in the general population indicate that majorities actually support environmental protection,” Robert Durant, emeritus professor in the school of public affairs at American University, told Climate Progress.
Interestingly, btw, Bernie Sanders received a score of 100% from the League of Conservation Voters. It’s a similar story with reining in Wall Street and corporate corruption. Bernie is all for it, in unison with the majority of the population, yet faces an uphill battle for the presidency due to the great influence of money in politics.
Images by League of Conservation Voters