and the Environmental Protection Agency
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?