In 2013, the Republican-led House voted for the anti-environment position 109 times. House Republicans voted to block actions to improve air quality and cut carbon pollution; to expedite oil and gas drilling off America’s coasts and on onshore federal lands; to slash funding for renewable energy and energy efficiency programs; to block federal efforts to improve water quality; and to allow more logging and mining on federal lands with limited environmental review.Unfortunately, on at least one issue on that list, oil and gas drilling, the White House has—to state it generously—been far from exemplary. But unlike the Obama administration, House Republicans have zero to boast about on the eco-protection side of their ledger. Their attack on the environment has been broad-based. According to the Waxman report, House Republicans voted:
• 51 times in favor of the interests of the oil and gas industry including fast-tracking pipeline construction and putting up obstacles to developing cleaner alternatives to oil.
• 37 times to weaken the Clean Water Act and to block funding to implement the National Ocean Policy.
• 27 times to cut spending on clean energy and energy efficiency.
• 20 times to weaken the Clean Air Act.
• 20 times against efforts to curb carbon pollution.
With an extremist majority of the House Republican caucus firmly in the denier camp on climate change, and determined to undercut any environmental protections that don't have a direct impact in their own back yard, the count of obstructive votes is hardly a surprise.
Also no surprise is that too few House Democrats have shown the environment to be a high priority of theirs. For instance, only 33 Democrats are members of the Safe Climate Caucus led by Waxman. Members have pledged to speak out every day on the need to deal with climate change:
What unites us is our understanding that climate change is the moral issue of our time. We believe we have an obligation to use our voices to raise awareness of the dangers we are creating for our children and grandchildren if we do not act now.There are 167 Democrats missing from that caucus. If they really want to distinguish themselves from the know-nothing right-wingers highlighted in Waxman's report, they should make it a point to sign up.