Saturday, September 15, 2012

Republicans vs. the EPA - Part II

In this installment of the "Republicans vs. the EPA" series I'm going to focus on one particular legislative attempt to abolish the EPA.

In the spring of 2011, Republican legislators in both houses introduced two versions of a bill that would abolish both the EPA and the Department of Energy, and replace them with a combined Department of Energy and Environment.

This was promoted as a cost-saving measure, but it seems to me that it would also mean the environmental-protection aspect of the combined agency's mission would necessarily be compromised by no longer being the sole guiding purpose of its own agency, but instead one of many different, sometimes competing objectives.

For instance, the proposed DOEE would be responsible, not just for drafting and enforcing regulations to protect the environment and human health, but also for making sure the country's power plants (particularly the nuclear ones) are safe from terrorist attacks, and for research into better ways to generate electricity.

It seems to me very likely that, in the tug-of-war for funding, the counterterrorism and R&D functions would win a greater share of the agency's budget than the boring, stick-in-the-mud regulatory function. I also find it easy to imagine intra-agency pressure building on the regulatory side not to regulate natural-resource extraction too heavily --- especially in areas where the expected energy yield is high, like the use of hydraulic fracturing to get at buried reservoirs of natural gas.

(You don't have to take my word for it that combining these agencies would produce a conflict of interest, either --- here's a short article that former DOE employee Joe Romm wrote for Think Progress explaining why he thinks that would be the likely outcome of such a merger.)

Anyway, that's enough background information. On to the lists!

Here are the seventeen Republican senators who co-sponsored the Senate version of the bill:
Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY)*
Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO)
Sen. John Boozman (R-AR)
Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) - wrote and introduced the bill
Sen. Dan Coats (R-IN)
Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK)
Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS)
Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC)
Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY)
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT)
Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX)
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI)
Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT)**
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ)
Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL)
Sen. John Thune (R-SD)
Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA)
Sen. David Vitter (R-LA)

And here are the eleven House members who co-sponsored the House version of the bill almost a year later:
Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) - introduced and sponsored bill
Rep. Steve Chabot (R-OH)
Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-NC)
Rep. Scott Garrett (R-NJ)
Rep. Kay Granger (R-TX)
Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-KS)
Rep. Sam Johnson (R-TX)
Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO)
Rep. Sue Wilkins Myrick (R-NC)
Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX)
Rep. David P. (Phil) Roe (R-TN)

The Senate bill seems to have died in committee on the same day it was introduced. The House bill, though it bounced around lots of different committees, also seems to have been tabled. Neither one ever came up for a vote.

*I'm really tempted, doing those party-and-state abbreviations, to borrow Melissa McEwan's convention of writing things like "R-Epulsive", "R-Idiculous," "R-etrograde," "R-Eally??", etc. But I figured I'd best stick with writing their actual state, in the interest of providing more information.

**Aren't Wyoming and Utah lucky? Both of those states' entire Senate delegations co-sponsored this bill!

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