It’s tough getting any news out of Washington these days that doesn’t involve the debt ceiling. Understandably, the political firestorm that has led our country to the brink of financial default has dominated headlines.
With Washington and the world focused on the debt ceiling drama, hard-right House Republicans have launched the biggest congressional assault on the environment in history, attacking our fundamental environmental and public health protections in order to appease Tea Party ideologues and big business donors.
Weekends also find fewer Americans paying attention to what's happening in Washington. And this weekend, the GOP-led House will take an unusual step and remain in session so they can take up more of the nearly 40 anti-environmental “riders” Republicans have attached to the Interior/EPA appropriations bill.
While you’re hopefully off enjoying the Great Outdoors, House Republicans will be pushing legislation that promises to destroy it.
Under GOP plans, coal mines will be able to dump more debris in our rivers and streams. Power plants and cement kilns will be able to pump more pollution into our air. And lands near the Grand Canyon could be opened for uranium mining.
Fortunately, the media is beginning to realize the unprecedented damage these anti-environmental riders could do to our environment and to America as we know it.
Leslie Kaufman of The New York Times picked up on the story Thursday.
“With the nation’s attention diverted by the drama over the debt ceiling, Republicans in the House of Representatives are loading up an appropriations bill 39 ways — and counting — to significantly curtail environmental regulation,” she points out.
The Washington Post’s Darryl Fears and Juliet Eilperin meanwhile, just logged in here.
In the Grand Canyon State, the Arizona Republic weighed in with one of the best editorials I’ve seen on what’s at stake.
“This bill does much more than just spread the pain of inevitable budget cuts,” the Republic writes. “It imposes changes that will undo things the American people want done. This is at odds with this nation's commitment to preserving its astonishingly rich natural heritage.”
In Ohio, where the Cuyahoga River once caught on fire before we had the Clean Water Act that we (at least for now) still have, the Toledo Blade has describes the state of our the environment and our public health simply but succinctly: “Under Seige”
The debt ceiling and the separate deficit debate will likely be front page news for a while. Rightfully so.
But it’s important to look behind the top headlines of the day to see what our elected officials are doing when our attention is diverted.
Fortunately, the press is starting to make it clear what out-of-touch House members are doing to our environment and public health protections.
Hopefully, we’ll all pay attention.