Senate Democrats Ignore Hundreds Of Organizations Protesting Dirty Energy Bill
That the Republican Party is indifferent to environmental issues is obvious. The GOP is in the pocket of big industrial corporations that make profits by outsourcing the costs of production in the form of pollution.
The Democratic Party has positioned itself as an alternative to the Republicans on environmental issues. Democratic politicians talk about environmental issues a great deal.
In these days, when the ecosystems around the planet are careening out of control and human society are paying immense economic costs for climate change, talk is cheap, and sincere environmentalists need to start asking whether Democrats are really much more trustworthy on environmental issues than Republicans.
Democrats used to make fun of Sarah Palin for chanting “Drill Baby Drill”, but it’s been Barack Obama who has led the way in expanding offshore drilling for oil and methane, even accelerating the pace of dangerous offshore drilling after the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. There was another big oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico this month, and it’s not Mitt Romney we have to blame for that.
This week, the U.S. House passed the Energy Policy Modernization Act a bill beloved by big polluters.
Hal Quinn, President and CEO of the National Mining Association, praises the bill, writing that, “The Energy Modernization Policy Act of 2016, passed by the Senate today, includes much-needed improvements in the nation’s permitting systems for metal and mineral mines to better position our country to achieve a truly all-of-the-above energy portfolio. Simply put, mineral security is a critical element to U.S. energy systems and Sen. Murkowski’s bill promotes better access to the raw materials that make it all possible.” Petroleum News reports that “the Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2016 garnered support from trade organizations such as the National Mining Association, Alaska Oil and Gas Association and American Petroleum Institute”.
At the beginning of this week, in an open letter, hundreds of environmental organizations expressed strong opposition to the Energy Policy Modernization Act, writing that, “We, over 370 organizations collectively representing millions of Americans, write to express our outrage at provisions contained in the Energy Policy Modernization Act (S. 2012), as passed in the Senate, that expand domestic oil and gas development. We strongly oppose any final energy bill that encourages more domestic oil and gas extraction and stifles our urgently- needed transition toward a clean, renewable energy future.”
The legislation allows for mining and oil and gas companies to leap frog over environmental regulations and curtails the length of time the public has to ask questions and submit comments on new, ecologically risky industrial projects. At a time when we need to be cutting back on the burning of fossil fuels, the bill expands the burning of fossil fuels, and even encourages fossil fuels exports to the rest of the world from the United States, so that other countries can add to the acceleration of climate change too.
Last month, when the U.S. Senate passed the bill, of all the Democratic senators, not a single one voted against the Energy Policy Modernization Act.
Hillary Clinton has not spoken out against the legislation. Bernie Sanders didn’t show up to vote on the bill at all.
The Republicans are nasty, and full of dirty oil money, but in the face of this, how on Earth can the Democratic Party claim to be friendly to environmentalists?
Well, this week, when the U.S. House passed the Energy Policy Modernization Act, 172 out of 180 Democrats voted against the bill.
What accounts for this huge difference?
Maybe it’s that letter that those environmentalist groups sent out, exerting pressure on Democrats in the House of Representatives. Perhaps Democratic politicians are environmentalists of convenience – they’ll vote against dirty energy bills like the Energy Policy Modernization Act only when activists make doing so the most comfortable choice. When environmental activists fail to speak, Democrats will default to listening to the voices of corporate polluter lobbyists, and go along with the viscous flow of the fossil fuel economy.