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August 06 2012

16:40

House Republicans Sacrifice Human Health For Alleged Job Creation

With July 2012 officially behind us, the U.S. jobs report for the month has economists and politicians concerned about the employment situation in America. And even though the economy added 163,000 jobs (economists had predicted only 100,000 jobs to be added for July,) the unemployment rate and the underemployment rate both crept slightly upwards. And with national elections coming up in three months, poor jobs numbers could be bad for our health.

If history is any indicator, Conservative politicians and think tanks will use last month’s poor jobs report in an attempt to provide massive giveaways to their friends in the dirty energy industry. They attempted the same thing after below-average job growth in May of this year, claiming that approval of the Keystone XL pipeline would be the job boon that Americans desperately need.

But Republicans in Washington didn’t wait for a bad jobs report before they started planning their dirty energy bonanza, but its likely they will use it as a catalyst to gain more support for their disastrous plans.

In mid June of this year, Republicans on the “House Energy Action Team” (HEAT) proposed a set of bills that would destroy many of the safeguards that are currently in place to protect our environment and our personal health in order to make things “easier” for businesses to create jobs without worrying about those pesky safety standards. What the package of legislation is really about is repaying HEAT members’ financiers from the dirty energy industry who stand to save a ton of cash by destroying regulations.

The legislation package would remove many current existing safeguards for environmental and public health until the unemployment rate drops below 6%, a rate that hasn’t been seen since July 2008, when it was 5.8%. Since that month four years ago, the rate has stayed consistently above 6%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.


When I wrote about the legislative package back in June, I focused mainly on the ties to industry of the bills’ sponsors. Recently, the Coalition for Sensible Safeguards put together an analysis of the safeguards and regulations that the bills would removed if passed:
  

The House of Representatives will soon consider a radical bill proposed by Republican members: ‘‘Red Tape Reduction and Small Business Job Creation Act’’ (H.R. 4078). This bill is made up of provisions H.R. 4078, H.R. 4607, H.R. 3862, H.R. 373, H.R. 4377, H.R. 2308, and H.R. 1840 which would, in an unprecedented move halt all regulatory action on national safeguards that protect the health and safety of Americans and bolster the nation’s economy.

Combined, these provisions would halt or delay virtually ALL regulations and do absolutely nothing to stimulate the economy or new job opportunities. They would shut down crucial safeguards that give Americans confidence in the products at the grocery store, the safety of their workplaces, the cleanliness of the water system, the soundness of our financial system, and the safety of vital infrastructure…

Public Health and Clean Air – These bills would continue to prevent the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from implementing standards defining power plants, industrial boilers, process heaters and cement plants compliance with the Clean Air Act. Those structures are the largest emitters of mercury and toxic air pollutants. Compliance would curb their harmful impact on the respiratory health of millions of Americans.

Food Safety – Each year, 1.2 million people get sick, 7,125 are hospitalized, and 134 die from foodborne illnesses contracted from contaminated produce. Illnesses and food recalls also hurt the U.S. agriculture and food industries. The Food Safety Modernization Act, passed with support from both industry and consumer groups, calls for new regulations on produce handling on large farms and an inspection system for foreign farms to be in place by 2013. Its implementation depends on rulemaking that would be blocked by the proposed bills.

Workplace Safety – Beryllium, a toxic substance (lung cancer and other fatal and chronic diseases) exposed to workers in the electronics, nuclear, and metalwork industries. Current1950s-based standards allow workers to continue to be exposed to levels higher than ruled safe for nuclear power plant workers. The three proposed bills would stop the Occupational Safety and Health Administration from updating exposure standards to protect all workers.

Energy and Environment – The proposed bills would block the U.S. Department of Energy from implementing the Energy Security and Independence Act, delaying for five years updates of energy efficiency standards for a wide range of products. The estimated lost savings for the U.S. economy would be $48 to $105 billion. The bills also would halt the Federal Trade Commission’s rulemaking for energy efficiency labeling designed to protect consumers from misleading and deceptive claims about product energy savings.
 

In addition to these measures, some of the bills in the package would reduce benefits for our veterans, and loosen the already lenient rules regarding the approval of medical devices in America.

If passed, these laws would sacrifice the lives and well being of American citizens based solely on the hope that companies will create more jobs. To the House Republicans who proposed this legislation, their faith in corporations to “do the right thing” is greater than their belief that every life is sacred and worth protecting.

But the most important thing to remember about their proposals is that they won’t work. As I have pointed out over the years, regulations are not destroying jobs, nor are they hindering job creation. In fact, tightening safeguards would actually lead to greater job creation than destroying regulations.

Talking points aside, House Republicans are also overlooking the fact that destroying safeguards will also have a devastating effect on the fragile U.S. economy. Studies tell us that for every dollar spent on safeguards and regulations, an economic benefit of between four and eight dollars ripples throughout the economy. To put it simply, every dollar spent on regulations has a minimum return of 400% for the U.S. economy. Any investor could see that this would be a wise decision.

In addition to the lost investments, we have to look at the jobs that would be lost by doing away with regulations. Delaying implementation, or doing away with completely, the Clean Air Act standards could cost our economy an estimated 1.5 million jobs.

And those numbers are just the ones on the surface. We would also have to factor in the economic impact of health and environmental degradation that would be placed on the economy if these safeguards were removed. It is a fact that U.S. taxpayers already pay for healthcare costs related to air pollution, estimated to be about $50 billion a year. Environmental costs shifted to taxpayers also total in the billions a year, as seen with the Gulf of Mexico oil spill and the Exxon Valdez spill (every disaster has costs that are shifted to taxpayers, those are just two of the largest examples.)

And again, all of these costs and dangers that will be imposed on the American public are only in the HOPE that corporate America will create more jobs. After analyzing all of the available information about regulations and job creation, its clear that repealing these safeguards will do little, if anything at all, to spur job growth in America. On the other hand, tightening these safeguards and fully implementing ones that have been delayed would provide an enormous benefit to both our health and our economy. But the dirty energy industry only thinks about their profits, not what happens in the world around them.

July 19 2012

19:21

For the Sweltering, Little Relief in Sight

NOAA issued its monthly climate report for June and a three-month outlook.

September 08 2011

20:48

The Second-Warmest Summer on Record

The average temperature in August was 75.7 degrees F, which is 3.0 degrees above the long-term average, while the summertime average was 74.5 degrees, or 2.4 degrees above average.

May 17 2011

17:52

GOP House Energy Action Team Is Dirty Energy Dream Team

Earlier this month, House Republicans formed the House Energy Action Team, or “HEAT.” 26 GOP members of Congress joined the group, whose stated mission to is to reduce American dependence on foreign oil and reduce gasoline prices for American consumers.

On the surface, the group’s intentions seem reasonable, but a comprehensive analysis by DeSmogBlog shows that the members of HEAT are using their positions to promote the use of oil and other dirty fossil fuels, rather than promoting the development and use of clean renewable fuel sources.

Among the initiatives that the group took up first are three bills that would expand offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico – an area that will be dealing with the effects of the BP oil disaster for years to come. This combination of bills would end the Obama Administration’s moratorium on new drilling in the Gulf, as well as expedite the leasing process for new drilling permits.

Republican members of HEAT also voted in favor of H.R. 1 earlier this year, which would reduce funding for alternative energy research, as well as strip the EPA of its authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.

ThinkProgress compiled a list of the campaign contributions each member of HEAT has received over the course of their careers (which total more than $4 million for all members combined.) It is important to note that all but one of these members voted against repealing the $4 billion in subsidies that the oil industry receives every year. The members are listed below with their career contributions from the oil and gas industry, as well as their positions and proposals on energy and environment throughout their careers: <!--break-->

Kevin McCarthy (R – CA): Career total of $142,350 from the oil and gas industry. Founder of the House Energy Action Team. McCarthy has supported legislation that would allow former military bases to be turned into oil refineries, voted in favor of legislation that would increase the production and development of shale oil, voted to open ANWR for oil drilling, voted to expand offshore oil drilling in deep water, voted against funding for alternative energy research and development, voted against ending oil subsidies, and voted against tax credits for energy conservation.

Peter Roskam (R - IL): Career total of $153,265 from the oil and gas industry. Co-chairman of HEAT. Voted against increasing vehicle fuel economy; Proposed the Energy VISION Act, which would increase offshore drilling, open ANWR for drilling, and open up more American lands for oil shale exploration; Voted against tax credits for renewable energy; Voted NO on limiting CO2 emissions; Voted to ban greenhouse gases from the Clean Air Act rules.

Marsha Blackburn (R-TN): Career total of $170,143 from the oil and gas industry. Refers to cap and trade as a “scheme.” Voted against restricting CO2 emissions, and voted to strip the EPA of the authority to do so; Voted against tax incentives for renewable energy development; Voted in favor of creating new oil refineries and expediting the permitting process of new refineries; Voted against removing oil industry subsidies.

Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV): Career total of $343,045 from the oil and gas industry. Claims the EPA is a “job killer”, as are limits placed on greenhouse gas emissions; Voted against the offshore drilling moratorium; Voted in favor of oil and gas drilling in ANWR; Voted against alternative fuel tax incentives; Introduced the Protect America's Energy and Manufacturing Jobs Act of 2011, which would prohibit the Obama Administration's regulation of carbon.

Mike Conaway (R-TX): Career total of $678,818 from the oil and gas industry. Voted against protecting endangered species; Supports drilling in ANWR; Voted against tax incentives for renewable energy; Voted against repealing oil industry subsidies; Voted against offshore drilling moratorium; Voted in favor of building new oil refineries.

Steve Scalise (R-LA): Career total of $139,135 from the oil and gas industry. Voted against tax credits for energy conservation; Voted against tax incentives for alternative energy production; Voted against regulating CO2 emissions; Calls for an end to the EPA’s ability to regulate greenhouse gases.

Greg Walden (R-OR): Career total of $182,500 from the oil and gas industry. Voted against implementation of the Kyoto Protocol; Voted in favor of creating new oil refineries; Voted against enforcing limits on CO2; Voted against raising fuel economy standards; Voted against tax incentives for renewable energy; In favor of ANWR drilling.

Rick Berg (R-ND): Career total of $114,311 from the oil and gas industry. Supports oil drilling and expanded mining ventures in his home state of North Dakota; Supports developing new nuclear power plants in North America; Does support renewable energy tax credits.

Jeff Denham (R-CA): Career total of $24,400 from the oil and gas industry. Pledged to vote against any tax increase that would be used to combat global climate change.

Cory Gardner (R-CO): Career total of $171,324 from the oil and gas industry. Claims that cap and trade policies will have no impact on global climate change; Signed the GOP’s “Contract From America,” which calls for an increase in domestic and offshore drilling in the United States.

Doc Hastings (R-WA): Career total of $161,804 from the oil and gas industry. Chairman of the House Committee on Natural Resources; Voted to expedite “forest thinning” projects to clear cut American forests; Voted against protecting endangered species; Voted against limiting carbon emissions; Voted against tax incentives for renewable energy programs; Voted against increasing vehicle fuel economy; Voted in favor of creating new oil refineries and expediting the permitting process; In favor of increased oil drilling on American soil and in American waters; Voted in favor of drilling in ANWR.

Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA): Career total of $26,600 from the oil and gas industry. Refused to answer any questions on whether she supports climate change legislation during the 2010 election, the cycle in which she was elected. As of May 2011, she has not signed onto any legislation supporting or against environmental issues.

Lynn Jenkins (R-KS): Career total of $119,600 from the oil and gas industry. Claims that the rise in gasoline and oil prices since 2008 are the result of “excessive regulations” by Democrats; In favor of creating new oil refineries and increasing offshore oil drilling and drilling in ANWR; Wants to ban greenhouse gases from the Clean Air Act.

Devin Nunes (R-CA): Career total of $138,000 from the oil and gas industry. Sponsored the American-Made Energy Freedom Act of 2006, which would create a trust fund to be used to develop alternative energy. However, this trust fund would be funded by profits from deep ocean drilling and expanded mainland oil drilling. Voted against limits on carbon emissions; Voted against providing tax incentives for alternative energy development; Voted against the offshore drilling moratorium; Voted no on criminalizing OPEC; Wants to bar greenhouse gases from the Clean Air Act; Voted to expedite “forest thinning” projects for clear cutting.

Alan Nunnelee (R-MS): Career total of $55,050 from the oil and gas industry. Called for the creation of an American energy plan that relied on “clean coal,” increased domestic drilling, as well as increased offshore oil drilling; Pledged to vote against any tax increases to be used for curbing climate change.

Pete Olson (R-TX): Career total of $246,750 from the oil and gas industry. In favor of increased domestic and offshore oil drilling; Against regulating greenhouse gas emissions; Claims cap and trade programs would have no impact on global climate change.

Ben Quayle (R-AZ): Career total of $42,200 from the oil and gas industry. Claims that cap and trade policies will stifle economic growth in American and send American jobs overseas; Signed the pledge to vote against any tax increases that would be used to fund climate change prevention programs. Was also a partner at the law firm of Schulte, Roth, & Zabel, who are currently defending Bernie Madoff and other white collar criminals.

Martha Roby (R-AL): Career total of $14,500 from the oil and gas industry. First-term congresswoman; Signed the GOP pledge to vote against any tax increase to be used for curbing global climate change.

Phil Roe (R-TN): Career total of $23,700 from the oil and gas industry. Supports increased domestic oil production, including offshore and mainland drilling, as well as the continued development of “clean coal.”

Steve Womack (R-AR): Career total of $15,719 from the oil and gas industry. First-term congressman; Signed onto the GOP’s pledge to vote against any tax increases that would be used to curb global climate change.

Jeff Duncan (R-SC): Career total of $15,000 from the oil and gas industry. Endorsed by the Club for Growth, a conservative group that has fought viciously against climate change legislation. Duncan opposes any new regulations aimed at reducing emissions and combatting climate change; Signed onto the GOP pledge to vote against any tax increases that would curb global climate change.

Jason Chaffetz (R-UT): Career total of $30,000 from the oil and gas industry. Favors developing habitats of endangered species for commercial use; Voted against regulating CO2 emissions; Wants to ban greenhouse gases from the Clean Air Act; Signed the no tax pledge to vote against tax increases to be used to combat climate change; Wants to ban the EPA from regulating greenhouse gases; In favor of increased domestic and offshore drilling in America; Claims cap and trade programs will have no effect on climate change.

Bill Flores (R-TX): Career total of $212,528 from the oil and gas industry. Former CEO of Phoenix Exploration Company, an oil and natural gas exploration firm; Supports increased offshore and domestic oil drilling; Signed the GOP’s pledge to vote against tax increases that would be used to combat climate change; Claims that cap and trade will have no impact on climate change.

Virginia Foxx (R-NC): Career total of $58,450 from the oil and gas industry. Voted against environmental education grants; Voted against regulating CO2 emissions; Voted against tax incentives for alternative energy; Voted in favor of expediting the creation of new oil refineries; Against the EPA regulating greenhouse gas emissions.

John Shimkus (R-IL): Career total of $275,761 from the oil and gas industry. Does not believe that humans cause climate change, and says that regulating CO2 emissions would take away valuable “plant food;” Voted against renewable energy tax credits; Voted against offshore drilling moratorium; Voted against raising fuel economy standards; Wants to ban greenhouse gas emissions from the Clean Air Act; Voted in favor of drilling in ANWR; Voted in favor of expediting “forest thinning” projects.

Fred Upton (R-MI): Career total of $262,850 from the oil and gas industry. Chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce; Wants to strip the EPA of the authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions; Voted against providing tax credits for alternative energy; Voted against offshore drilling moratorium; Voted against raising fuel economy standards; Voted against implementing the Kyoto Protocol; Wants to reduce the liability for corporations who contribute to or create hazardous waste sites.

Bill Johnson (R-OH): Career total of $5,250 from the oil and gas industry. First-term congressman. Signed the GOP pledge to vote against tax increases that would be used to combat climate change; Supports increased domestic drilling and “clean coal;” Says that cap and trade will harm our economy and result in the loss of American jobs.

Mike Pompeo (R-KS): Career total of $250,156 from the oil and gas industry. Serves on the board of trustees for the Kansas Policy Institute, which was founded by David and Charles Koch; Wants to strip the EPA of the authority to regulate greenhouse gases; Signed the GOP pledge to vote against any tax increase that would be used to combat climate change.

October 18 2010

20:14

April 22 2010

15:37

On Our Radar

A European Union report concludes that biofuels produce up to four times the carbon dioxide emissions that regular gasoline and diesel do.
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