Next week, Democrats will be the majority party in the US House of Representatives for the first time since 2012. Nancy Pelosi, the new Speaker of the House, has announced she will create a new special committee on climate change. The chair of the new committee will be Karen Castor, a 7-term Congresswoman from Tampa, Florida. Pelosi created a similar committee during her last term as Speaker but it was eliminated by Republicans, who find the notion of climate change an anathema.
Energy And Urgency
Pelosi told the press this week that Castor brings experience, energy, and “urgency to the existential threat of the climate crisis” facing the US and the world. “Congresswoman Castor is a proven champion for public health and green infrastructure, who deeply understands the scope and seriousness of this threat. Her decades of experience in this fight, both in Florida and in the Congress, will be vital,” she said.
Castor said she was honored to lead the panel and pledged to “act with urgency to reduce carbon pollution” and “unleash” American ingenuity to create clean-energy jobs. “The costs of the changing climate and extreme weather events pose greater risks every day to American families, businesses and our way of life.” The committee “will tackle the crisis head on. Failure is not an option.” Its work will likely support the call for a Green New Deal championed by incoming Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio Cortez of New York.
A New Apollo Program
If America had effective leadership, it would leverage the climate emergency to create new industries that would provide its citizens with good paying employment opportunities and make it an international leader again. The effort could rival the challenge made by John F. Kennedy when he devised the Apollo program that put the first man on the moon. It would bring America together in a new national mission to act responsibly to address the threat of climate change.
Instead, under the auspices of the anal retentive lunatic in the White House, the US government is busy bowing and scraping to please the very fossil fuel industries who have brought on the approaching climate disaster. The so-called Environmental Protection Agency — now headed by former coal industry lobbyist and Koch Brothers acolyte Andrew Wheeler, is proposing to roll back current regulations that limit the amount of mercury coal-fired generating plants can release into the environment.
Building A Foundation For More Rollbacks
The move may not have a dramatic impact on coal fired plants. Many have already shut down or have installed the pollution controls needed to comply with the current rules that went into effect during the prior administration. However, it is another sign that this administration prefers to benefit corporate campaign donors at the expense of American citizens.
“The main reason why they want to do this is to cut the legs off EPA in terms of our ability to protect public health and natural resources from toxics that are impacting our lives today,” former EPA administrator Gina McCarthy tells The Guardian. The main thrust of the industry stooges now running the government is that public health should not be one of the considerations taken into account by present and future rule making procedures.
Within the scientific community, there is broad agreement that air pollution has a serious detrimental effect on human health, especially among young people. “Pish tosh,” say the rabid ideologues appointed by Trump. Environmental regulations place too high a burden on industry, driving down profits they say.
One can only wonder what will happen to those profits when industrial activity leads to the extinction of humanity as we know it. But that would involve looking past the next quarterly earnings statement, something that American business is most reluctant to do.
The mercury rule rollback may seem like a minor thing. At most it might keep a few coal-fired generating stations open a few years longer, says Charles Driscoll, a professor of environmental engineering at Syracuse University. But the point is to establish that public health costs should not be taken into consideration by any federal agency in the rule making process. “That would result in weaker public health protections, as regulators would consider only a fraction of the benefits of pollution proposals and standards would appear to cost more than they are worth,” reports The Guardian.
Corporations Over Children
The American government is actively sacrificing the health of children on the altar of greed. Is that the hallmark of a great nation? Hardly. The wonder is, with the mercurial Trump stomping around the White House roaring like a wounded rhinoceros, nobody has invoked the provisions of the 25th Amendment to rid the country of a president who is plainly non compos mentis. Doesn’t a great nation deserve a sane adult at the helm, one who represents the interests of all the people not just those who watch Faux News?
At this point, America has to choose between a megalomaniac and the health of ourselves and our children. It should be an easy choice to make. But because this president has such an implacable hatred of anyone who dares oppose him, there is no middle ground left any more, only scorched earth where the American Experiment once flourished.
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