From Brown to Green
It's a myth that environmental laws are job killers. In fact, the East Bay is home to many cleaned-up toxic sites that are now spurring the economy.By Darwin BondGraham
During a Republican presidential primary debate last June, Michele Bachmann lit into the Environmental Protection Agency, recommending it be renamed the "job-killing organization of America." Her fellow contenders nodded in agreement, each explaining how shutting down the EPA, or at least instituting a moratorium on regulations, would be a priority in their White House.
The GOP's desire to kill America's chief environmental regulator hasn't just been grist for the bizarre sideshow that is the Republican Party's presidential primary. Over the past year, Republicans in Congress — in actual positions of power — have succeeded in massively defunding the EPA. In March, no less than nineteen riders were floated on the floor of the House of Representatives to cut the EPA's budget. Fifteen Republican senators even proposed deleting the EPA as a cabinet-level agency. The harshest of these legislative bombs were diffused, but the cuts that prevailed added up to the largest single year drop in EPA funding since 1981 when President Reagan ("Trees cause more pollution than automobiles do") began his unprecedented assault on the greens.
Republicans by no means have a monopoly on the "job killer" trope. Moderate, so called-Blue Dog Democratic senators like Jay Rockefeller and Ben Nelson, who hail from states with huge corporate energy interests, have co-sponsored legislation to ditch specific EPA standards. Even President Obama recently reinforced the mythology that environmental regulations are counterproductive to economic development, saying in September that his decision to rescind ozone air-quality standards was essential to the nation's economic recovery. Both parties also are seriously pursuing environmental deregulation of industry, and cuts to the nation's major cleanup programs.