Republican Congress Votes To Do To America What Rick Snyder Did To Flint, Michigan

michigan lead pollution REINS Act

Last year, the nation watched in shock and outrage as revelations emerged about the way that Michigan Governor Rick Snyder purposefully cut corners in his administration of the city of Flint, allowing the city’s population to be exposed to extremely dangerous levels of lead in the drinking water in order to make it appear that he was being a fiscal hawk.

What we couldn’t have imagined even a few months ago is that the entire United States would soon be made vulnerable to the same kind of toxic neglect. Yet, that’s exactly what’s happening, thanks to Donald Trump and the new Republican Congress.

Last week, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 26, the REINS Act, and the Senate is planning to do the same. Donald Trump has pledged to support the bill, saying, “I will sign the REINS Act should it reach my desk as President and more importantly I will work hard to get it passed.”

What the REINS Act does is to block federal measures that protect Americans from toxic substances and dangerous workplace environments. Under the REINS Act, the Republican Congress declares that no new protections for American communities, families, workers, and children can take place, and it will only be open to considering those protections on one day per month. If Congress simply does nothing, all new efforts to protect Americans from dangerous substances and situations will simply wither away automatically within 70 days.

Obviously, the REINS Act is designed to sabotage federal protections for American communities like Flint, Michigan.

Could an exception have been made in the law for extreme circumstances, to allow protection from lead poisoning in drinking water, for example?

U.S. Representative John Conyers tried that. He offered an amendment to the REINS Act that would have allowed for protections against lead contamination to go forward. The House Republicans refused to pass the amendment.

What’s more, every one of the congressional Republicans from Michigan voted against protecting Americans from the kind of lead poisoning that took place in Flint, Michigan. Those GOP Michiganders were: Tim Walberg, Fred Upton, David Trott, John Moolenar, Paul Mitchell, Bill Huizenga, Mike Bishop, Jack Bergman, and Justin Amash.

The crisis began in Michigan, but thanks to the REINS Act, we are all living in Flint now.

Inexperienced Ryan Zinke Denies Scientific Reality Of Climate Change

Climate denier Ryan Zinke

Just when it appeared that that the zealously anti-environmental congressional veteran Cathy McMorris Rodgers would be granted the nomination to become the next Secretary of the Interior, Donald Trump announced that he is picking an inexperienced freshman member of the U.S. House of Representatives, Ryan Zinke, for the post.

Zinke’ only relevant experience for the job of Secretary of the Interior is that he has served one two-year term in Congress.

What’s more, Zinke appears to be an even more enthusiastic proponent of corporate pollution. While McMorris Rodgers had a 4% approval rating from the League of Conservation Voters, Zinke’s approval rating with the group is 3%.

Zinke’s opposition to a clean environment appears to be a matter of political ambition rather than sincere intellectual consideration. In 2010, Zinke signed a letter to President Obama urging him to pass strong legislation to confront climate change. By 2014, though, Zinke had decided that he wanted to run for Congress, and decided that in order to get funding from dirty energy corporations, he should switch into full bore right wing climate change denial.

The tactic worked. Zinke gained a seat in Congress using of hundreds of thousands of dollars donated by fossil fuel corporations – much of which was spent through shadowy independent expenditures that can’t be directly traced.

Zinke announced that anthropogenic climate change is “not proven science” even though it clearly is, as a review of the scientific work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change shows. The IPCC, the largest international body of scientists researching climate change, which, upon reviewing the latest scientific data, which is astonishingly vast and well-analyzed, concludes in its report, “Human influence on the climate system is clear, and recent anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases are the highest in history. Recent climate changes have had widespread impacts on human and natural systems. Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, and since the 1950s, many of the observed changes are unprecedented over decades to millennia. The atmosphere and ocean have warmed, the amounts of snow and ice have diminished, and sea level has risen.”

In his earnest attempts to keep his corporate benefactors happy, Zinke has swerved into absurdity, going so far as to claim that climate change won’t necessarily impact the weather. By definition, climate impacts the weather.

Of course, Zinke doesn’t have a degree in climatology. He does have training in the methods of mining for dirty fossil fuels, and seems to have unsuccessfully attempted to expand his understanding of rocks and crude oil into a botched political ideology that denying scientists’ understanding of complex climate systems.

That Zinke’s statements about climate change make no rational sense matters less than the fact that they demonstrate his allegiance to powerful fossil fuels corporations who are willing to send him checks as he works to prevent any meaningful government action to confront global warming, ocean acidification, and sea level rise.

Zinke promotes the burning of more coal, more crude oil, and more gas – the very same practices that got us into the current climate crisis in the first place. Zinke calls this policy “all of the above” which in practice means burn everything you can, and to hell with the consequences.

As Secretary of the Interior, Zinke will be in a position to grant access to public wilderness to the very same corporations that have been sending him money to prop up his young political career. So, the pollution that Zinke is poised to bring to Washington D.C. won’t just be in the form of dirty air and water. Zinke travels with the distinct stench of political corruption as well.

Cathy McMorris Rodgers is the Queen of Unclean

cathy mcmorris rodgers

Update: The nomination of Cathy McMorris Rodgers has been withdrawn, as Donald Trump has chosen an inexperienced one-term U.S. Representative Ryan Zinke to be Secretary of the Interior instead. Zinke also denies the reality of anthropogenic climate change.

Unclean: There is no other word that describes the record of U.S. Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers so well. Both ethically and ecologically, McMorris Rodgers has a dirty record, making her a tragically suitable pick to join the Swamp Cabinet of Donald Trump.

As a member of Congress, McMorris Rodgers has accepted over a half million dollars from corporations that profit from the processing and sale of fossil fuels. In return, she has repeatedly taken political stands that subject her constituents to physical harm and economic damage, putting the demands of her corporate donors before the needs of the people she is supposed to have been representing.

It all centers around the ideological insistence by executives at fossil fuel companies that their dangerously antiquated energy products are, contrary to all evidence, clean and safe. The scientific evidence has clearly established that climate change, including global warming, is taking place and is largely due to the industrial activities of human beings, of which the burning of fossil fuels has been a significant part.

Time and again, Cathy McMorris Rodgers has pretended that the scientific evidence of anthropogenic climate change does not exist. She has taken the corporate talking points of her big donors, and used them as excuses to do nothing while the United States of America suffers the consequences. Our nation is seeing increased storm damage, intensified drought, economically damaging extreme temperatures, and wildfires of increasing frequency, size, and duration.

Cathy McMorris Rodgers, taking the direction of her corporate patrons, pretends that these problems simply aren’t happening. So, this year, when wildfires associated with out of control climate change scorched her very own congressional district in eastern Washington, McMorris Rodgers refused to address the underlying crisis, coming up with ridiculous claims instead that the real source of the problem was bad accounting in the U.S. Forest Service.

Over the last two years, Cathy McMorris Rodgers has voted in favor of giving big government handouts to the very same dirty energy corporations that have given her the money she needs to keep her political career afloat. She has voted in favor of allowing big oil companies to sell crude oil overseas, increasing the price of energy here in the USA. She has voted in favor of plans to allow coal companies to store toxic mining wastes on top of groundwater from which people draw their drinking water, and near rivers that human beings depend upon to run clean and clear. She has voted to give powerful corporations special protections from the rule of law when they poison the air, earth, and water. She has voted to help poachers around the world to sell the body parts of endangered animals. She has worked to make air pollution worse in our nation’s cities. She has voted in favor of selling off public resources to her corporate allies at pennies on the dollar. She has voted in favor of preventing ordinary Americans from having the chance to participate in the crafting of government regulations, while allowing the big corporations she takes money from to keep their special access. She has voted time and again to prevent any action at all that would confront the growing climate crisis.

Cathy McMorris Rodgers has spent her entire political career doing everything within her power to make the Earth a more polluted planet. She has done so in order to protect her dirty money donors.

Cathy McMorris Rodgers has been corrupted by big money in Washington D.C. for years. It’s no surprise that Donald Trump would select her to become one of the new inhabitants of his Cabinet’s swamp of blatant corruption.

When the U.S. Senate confirms her confirmation, Cathy McMorris Rodgers will become the Secretary of the Interior, and as such will take the power to grant special favors to the same companies who have given her a half a million dollars. She will follow her previous course, one applauded by Donald Trump, of opening up national parklands to mining, drilling, pipelines, and corporate construction projects, stripping America’s greatest lands for the sake of a quick profit for her financially elite friends.

Years from now, when Cathy McMorris Rodgers and her allies have ripped all the commercial value they can out of America’s parklands, and abandoned them as toxic, stinking, scorched and eroded wastes, our children will look on in anger, and ask how we could have allowed it to happen.

We will only stammer, with some half-hearted explanation of the inherent wisdom of the marketplace on our lips, and then fall silent, in shame.

Even now, we know it isn’t right.