GOP Debt Ceiling Proposal Bad for the Environment (Top 5 List)

The clock is ticking as the entire world is watching with uncertainty. While the fate of the United States lays in the grasp of a few elected politicians. These are trying times for everyone, as a debt ceiling solution cannot be agreed upon.

With many proposals being put on the table by both parties. It is almost certain that someone will lose in this epic struggle to keep our government from default.

Will it be our nations senior’s that have worked all their lives to suddenly have what they paid into cut? Will it be the backbone of the American economy, the middle class?

The lives of Americans are being tossed around for sure and the outcome will probably not be favorable. Another possible victim in this game of politics that is not being discussed is the environment.

One of the proposals that is being backed by the Republicans would have harsh consequences on the environment. In all, the cuts range from the significant to the mundane.

Here are the top five environmental cuts that are being proposed by the Republican plan, put together by Andrew Schenkel over at MNN .

1. Delay in carbon regulation

It’s hard to reduce the amount of carbon pollution in our atmosphere if you can’t regulate emissions from “stationary sources.” Yet, that is what Section 431 of the bill would do. Cleaning up stationary sources, like power plants and factories, is critical to reducing emissions. But just as the EPA plans to begin this long fought-for process, one Republican proposal calls for a “one-year period [in which the] EPA is prohibited from proposing or promulgating regulations to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from stationary sources.”

2. Oil companies don’t have to comply with Clean Air Act requirements

Section 443 of the Republican proposal includes a directive to amend the Clean Air Act, or CAA, in a few ways. First, it would, “preclude EPA from requiring offshore sources to demonstrate compliance with health-based air quality standards anywhere but in a single onshore area.” Another break for oil companies comes in a reduction to “the length of time during which exploration platforms and drill ships are considered emission sources under the CAA, thereby limiting the time when emissions would be controlled.”

3. GOP gives green light to mountaintop removal mining

Of the 39 GOP proposals that take aim at the environment, two of them make it easier for mountaintop removal mining to continue. Section 432 of the current Republican plan would keep the Office of Surface Mining (OSM) from updating the Stream Buffer Rule. This is important because in the final days of the George W. Bush administration, officials amended the Stream Buffer Rule. The amendment changed the rule from prohibiting the dumping of mining waste with 100 feet of streams to allowing, “a surface coal mine operator to legally place excess material excavated by the operation into streams.” The OSM has been trying to change this back to the original plan since President Obama took office.

In addition, Section 433 of the Republican proposal would keep the EPA, the Army Corps of Engineers, and the OSM from implementing or enforcing any policy or procedure that is contained in the governmental procedures regarding mountaintop removal mining.

4. Wild lands order put on hold

Back in December 2010, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced that the federal government would designate millions of acres in the American West as “Wild Lands.” This would have allowed the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to begin managing these acres based on certain characteristics. Management would include regulation of how these lands are used. This would change the game for mineral extraction royalties when it came to processes like coal mining and oil drilling. Already, the plan came under fire during the federal operating budget negotiations. Now, during the debt ceiling negotiations, Section 124 of the current Republican proposal calls for essentially sticking a knife in the Salazar plan once and for all. “[Section 124]: Prohibits funding for the Wild Lands Secretarial Order announced by Interior Secretary Salazar last December,” according to the House Appropriations Committee’s Democratic website.

5. Grand Canyon to be opened for uranium mining

As if the views of the Grand Canyon weren’t glowing enough, Republicans in the House want it to be a beacon of uranium production. Section 455 of their appropriations bill would prohibit the Secretary of the Interior from implementing a land withdrawal to protect the Grand Canyon from new uranium mining claims. This provision fits in with many plans to bolster the country’s nuclear energy capabilities.

These are just a few of the provision on the House Republican’s wish-list, though none of these are expected to be adopted by the Senate, let alone signed into law by President Obama. Still, these are the proposals that Republicans in the House approved. As for what they didn’t approve, it seems that for an idea to have been rejected it had to be extremely extreme. “In fact, one measure — to forbid the Fish and Wildlife Service to list any new plants or animals as endangered — was so extreme that 37 Republicans broke ranks Wednesday and voted to strip it from the bill,” reported Leslie Kaufman in the New York Times.

For more ways Republicans are attacking the environment at this critical time, check out: Republicans Seek Big Cuts in Environmental Rules (39 ways listed) or GOP House: 70 Ways (and counting) to Lose Your Environmental Protections.

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  4. Quote of the Week: Al Gore
  5. Nuclear Power Remains “Safe” (By Changing the Rules)

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