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The GOP's plan for the Department of Energy
 and the Environmental Protection Agency
For decades, Republicans have sought to weaken or eliminate government departments and agencies. They're at it again. This time the target is the 40-year-old Environmental Protection Agency. And the 34-year-old Department of Energy. The scheme: Merge them.

The sponsor of the bill that would do this is North Carolina Sen. Richard Burr. So far, he's picked up 15 co-sponsors for a plan that he claims would save $3 billion a year by getting rid of waste and duplication.

The EPA has been under siege for some time, but never more so than now, with the likes of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and his fossil fuel-funded American Solutions for Winning the Future having proposed the complete abolition of the agency earlier this year. Not that Gingrich isn't serious. But, like many of his and other proposals from the right, this one gives Republicans the chance to put forth plans look moderate in comparison because they only take few steps in the same extremist direction even though they have the same ultimate destination.

A decade and a half ago, Gingrich sought to get rid of the Department of Energy. Then and now, Republicans have fought to remove renewable-energy programs from DOE, or failing that, to slash their spending. In the House Republican-passed budget, they axed $438 million in such spending while leaving fossil-fuel subsidies untouched. When temporarily stymied in their ultimate goal, Republican extremists don't go on a despairing drinking binge, they try an end run or another approach. Eventually, they find a position that will get enough votes to ensure passage. And when they've passed that, they'll begin chipping away. Check out abortion legislation for examples.

How would it work to merge two agencies with such disparate mandates, one to encourage energy innovation and handle the nation's nuclear weapons, the other to protect our health and the environment? Not every well, as Joe Romm at Climate Progress points out. Different mandates, different cultures. And if the merger gums up the works, it gives the Republicans ammunition to move toward the real goal, complete abolition of the combined agencies. Says Romm, who worked for DOE in the '90s:

Yes, they both have a General Counsel’s office, for instance — but DOEE would still need the lawyers from both EPA and DOE since they do completely different things and require completely different sets of expertise.  What this would allow the GOP to do is to cut the combined operations budget and staffing, thereby crippling both agencies, all in the name of “streamlining.”

Equally important, this would remove a voice from the Cabinet meetings– either a Lisa Jackson or Steven Chu.  These meetings are already dominated by economic agencies or those who don’t have either an environmental or clean energy expertise.

Also, combining a regulatory agency with an agency that advocates for and serves the need of those regulated industries is widely seen as a disastrously bad idea.

But this disaster serves the needs of the regulated industries. That's the whole point.

Hamstringing EPA's Supreme Court-approved regulation of greenhouse gases and its other pollution-controlling actions is precisely what's on the agenda of Burr and the other science-rejectors who have agreed to join him in this extremist proposal masquerading as "efficiency." It is, at its core, the same scheme other Republicans are running at the state level.Like Paul Ryan and his pals who want to whack Medicare and Medicaid, they can pretend this is about good government and saving the very things they are bent on demolishing. It's really all about making things cushier for their benefactors in the regulated industries. If your first proposal doesn't succeed, try and try again.  

The question is, will enough Senators see through their ruse and put the squelch on it?

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Comment Preferences

  •  FEMA and the Department of Homeland (13+ / 0-)


    We've seen this movie before and it didn't end well.

    Nuff said.

    Ilegitami non carborundum.

    by kevinpolk9 on Fri May 06, 2011 at 06:52:05 PM PDT

  •  These people hire professionals. (7+ / 0-)
    When temporarily stymied in their ultimate goal, Republican extremists don't go on a despairing drinking binge, they try an end run or another approach.

    -- We are just regular people informed on issues

    by mike101 on Fri May 06, 2011 at 06:56:32 PM PDT

  •  There are 50 (12+ / 0-)

    superfund sites in North Carolina.  It would take too long to look up the Clean Air, Clean Water and Solid Waste Act violations -- forget about the Endangered Species Act, Toxic Substances Control Act, Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act etc.

    " My faith in the Constitution is whole; it is complete; it is total." Barbara Jordan, 1974

    by gchaucer2 on Fri May 06, 2011 at 06:56:49 PM PDT

  •  Of all that happened During the Nixon years, ... (11+ / 0-)

    ... the EPA's creation is one thing worth letting stand.

    The Birth of the EPA


    The Nixon Administration, although preoccupied with an unpopular war and a recession-ridden economy, took some stopgap action on the environmental front in 1969. In May, President Nixon had set up a Cabinet-level Environmental Quality Council as well as a Citizens' Advisory Committee on Environmental Quality. His critics charged that these were largely ceremonial bodies, with almost no real power.

    Stung by these charges, President Nixon appointed a White House committee in December 1969 to consider whether there should be a separate environmental agency. The President had already asked Litton founder, Roy L. Ash, to take a sweeping look at organizational problems throughout the government.


    Maybe even worth building on and extending.

    Why is there a Confederate Flag flying in Afghanistan?

    by chimpy on Fri May 06, 2011 at 07:04:29 PM PDT

  •  North Carolina is vulnerable (8+ / 0-)

    To extreme rainfall, hurricanes and sea level rise, all of which are aggravated by global warming.  GW is not going to be kind to Texas either, with droughts, wildfires, tornadoes, hurricanes and sea level rise.  These yahoos who oppose global warming ought to pay more attention to the future their constituents will face.

    The scientific uncertainty doesn't mean that climate change isn't actually happening.

    by Mimikatz on Fri May 06, 2011 at 07:07:11 PM PDT

  •  It's really not "see through their ruse"- (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    chimpy, marina
    The question is, will enough Senators see through their ruse and put the squelch on it?

    The sponsor [...] is North Carolina Sen. Richard Burr. So far, he's picked up 15 co-sponsors for a plan that he claims would save $3 billion a year by getting rid of waste and duplication.

    With the new-found focus on slashing spending, it's going to be tough to argue against this.

    Much like saying it's "for the children", or "if it saves even one life"...those are conversation ending statements that take some guts to go to bat against.

    -- We are just regular people informed on issues

    by mike101 on Fri May 06, 2011 at 07:08:46 PM PDT

  •  It's depressing. It is like a constant war we are (10+ / 0-)

    fighting to keep what we have without losing it all.  When the whole, "I want my country back" refrain began it was easy to snicker, but lately it is ugly, mean and sneaky, or maybe it always was and I just did not see. This is our environment, we really can't live without it, wonder why they just don't get it.

    Never kick a fresh turd on a hot day. Harry Truman

    by temptxan on Fri May 06, 2011 at 07:11:18 PM PDT

  •  just like DHS, a merger causes bigger bureaucracy (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DawnN, BYw

    I am off my metas! Präsidentenelf-maßschach; Warning-Some Snark Above join the DAILY KOS UNIVERSITY "Nous sommes un groupuscule"

    by annieli on Fri May 06, 2011 at 07:11:20 PM PDT

  •  This is one of those moments in NC history (9+ / 0-)

    that I would like to forget.  

    This is the first thing that this idiot has bothered to do in his entire retirement to the Senate of the United States.  I mean that literally.  He ran, against Erskine Bowles, aka nerdy big glasses Clintonite, and retired to a do nothing cushy job in the Senate where he could collect a pay check.  Now he raises his ugly head to try to to justify his existence.  It's disgusting.  

    I might add that the Democratic party in my state could have done better.  Erskine Bowles was a terrible candidate.  He thought he could rest on his laurels as a member of Clinton's administration.  Think again. And again about his contribution on the Cat Food Commission.    

    The ads told the story.  Bowles with his nerdy glasses vs Burr with his good looks and picture perfect family portraying the good life if only those god fearing North Carolinians would vote for a Republican.

    As a North Carolinian, I hope and pray he goes back into his dormant mode.  I like him better when he was my do nothing Senator.  At least he was harmless in his show up and collect a pay check mode.    

    •  harmless? not if you care about environment (0+ / 0-)

      If Murkowski had not won, he would be the ranking member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.

      The energy lobby was very excited about the possibility. They seem to be more knowledgeable about this kind of thing than most environmentalists.

  •  This is exactly why Democrats can no longer (8+ / 0-)

    "meet in the middle."...

    But, like many of his and other proposals from the right, this [extremist] one gives Republicans the chance to put forth plans look moderate in comparison because they only take few steps in the same extremist direction even though they have the same ultimate destination.


    The Overton window doesn't stretch that way. And yes enough Democratic Senators suely must see this for what it is, but will they keep pretending that even considering the Gop crap is the right thing to do when it's nothing more than a loss from the start?

    Just wondering who can be trusted

  •  Why would they want to merge the DOE with (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    historys mysteries, Eric Nelson

               the Gestapo?

    Slap it. Shoot it. Kaboot it.

    by adios on Fri May 06, 2011 at 07:25:31 PM PDT

    •  We used to live adjacent to a huge piece of (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      adios, DawnN, We Won, BYw

      property owned by the Holmes Co. This company was renowned for clear cutting & made it there practice pay the $1000 fine  for cutting down unapproved trees trees.

      Scott might be thinking about the agency’s threat to triple those fines if he’s faced with a vote on rolling back EPA’s climate regulations.

      “They told him essentially that if he wanted to argue with them that they’d fine him $30,000 per house,” Scott said yesterday. “Those are Gestapo tactics.”

      They stood to make far more per tree. The fines were an inconvenience. Fortunately over the years properties surrounding them land locked them. All the neighbors held strong and refused their very generous offer to sell them a right of way easement.

      That time we won.

      Fines often aren't a good enough prevention

  •  Burrrrrrrrrrrrr! (0+ / 0-)

    "Lets show the rascals what Citizens United really means."

    by smiley7 on Fri May 06, 2011 at 07:41:47 PM PDT

  •  EPA/Energy Dept merger (0+ / 0-)

    How do the missions of these agencies combine? Are they primarily mutually supportive of each other, at the Prime Objective level, or do they conflict?

    These political and structural questions need to be addressed, unless this is simply a 'starve the beast' primary campaign issue for the Republicans, driven by a perceived need of the primary candidates to court the Tea Party-ers and their imaginary friends.

  •  The growing fracking controversy is part ... (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    marina, Eric Nelson, adios, DawnN, BYw
    •  Of course! nt (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Eric Nelson, DawnN
    •  So true. And this quote in particular (0+ / 0-)

      infuriates me.

      Mr. Upton said that fracking had been used safely for more than 60 years and there are “too many cooks in the kitchen” when it comes to regulating the nation’s natural resources.

      Trying to obfuscate the very big problems of hydrofracking with deep, horizontal drilling in the Marcellus by referring to old vertical well fracking experience. I suppose we pesky citizens demanding our Clean Water and Rights to Know are some of the cooks he'd like to eliminate.

      I did a diary today on the hydrofracking water withdrawal issue. Not much interest, alas.

      Okay, the Government says you MUST abort your child. NOW do you get it?

      by Catskill Julie on Sun May 08, 2011 at 01:23:37 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Keep spreading the word ... (0+ / 0-)

        and people will eventually catch on. They need us to show them this is something to be angry about. Write letters to the editor. Post anti-fracking links on your Facebook page. Forward e-mail information to friends and relatives. Give people accurate information and tell them what they can do. We can't compete with the gas interests with money, but we can fight them with numbers and with passion.

  •  That's my senior senator (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    a gilas girl, bushondrugs

    He usually just votes wrong. I've never seen him sponsor anything in his 6 years and 5 months in the Senate.

    How embarrassing that he just got re-elected in November. We are stuck with him until 2016.

    There should never be a tax benefit for companies that screw over American workers.

    by bear83 on Fri May 06, 2011 at 08:47:14 PM PDT

  •  Well, this is a truly hideous notion that would (0+ / 0-)

    serve the GOP and the Corporatocracy in multitudinous nefarious ways.

    I do not live in any of the current sponsors' states, but if any of the readers do, please consider this an excellent subject for discussing with your neighbors, LTEs, and screaming in the streets. Here they are, starting with everyone's favorite:

    Jim Demint (R-SC), Mike Enzi (R-WY), John Thune (R-SD), John McCain (R-AZ), Dan Coats (R-IN), Richard Shelby (R-AL), John Barasso (R-WY), Roy Blunt (R-MO), John Boozman (R-AR), Thad Cochran (R-MS), Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), David Vitter (R-LA), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Ron Johnson (R-WI), Mike Lee (R-UT).

    My own Senators, D's both, will get letters asking them to do all they can to discourage this.

    I think that people want peace so much that one of these days governments had better get out of the way and let them have it.– Dwight D. Eisenhower

    by DawnN on Fri May 06, 2011 at 08:52:56 PM PDT

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