The Environment Is Under Attack

by Larry Jordan on January 22, 2012

Gray Wolf (Canus lupis) photo courtesy of Rocky Mountain Tracking

Our environment is under attack by the United States Congress! Current members in the U.S. House of Representatives have cast the most anti-environment votes of any Congress in history.

You can read the minority report in its entirety from the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce here.

The conclusion of this report is:

  1. The House was in session for 165 legislative days in 2011 and took 191 anti-environment votes during that period. On average, the House Republicans averaged more than one anti-environmental vote for every day the House was in session.
  2. More than one in five of the roll call votes taken in 2011 – 22% – were votes to undermine environmental protections.
  3. On average, 228 Republican members of the House – 94% of the Republican members – voted for the anti-environment position during these roll call votes.
  4. On average, 165 Democratic members of the House – 86% of the Democratic members – voted for the pro-environment position.
  5. The anti-environment votes included 27 votes to block action to address climate change, 77 votes to undermine Clean Air Act protections, 28 votes to undermine Clean Water Act protections, and 47 votes to weaken protection of public lands and coastal waters.
  6. The Environmental Protection Agency was the target of 114 of these votes; the Department of the Interior was the target of 35 of these votes; and the Department of Energy was the target of 31 of these votes.

I don’t know about you, but this kind of news scares the hell out of me! We obviously need to keep an eye on our elected officials and write letters or send emails to our representatives when they are doing the right things, and most definitely when they are doing harm to our environment.

When congress begins erasing the environmental safeguards we have been putting in place for decades and strips away protection for the planet’s biodiversity, we need to act.

You can check out how your legislators are doing by checking this Conservation Report Card from Defenders of Wildlife. You can look up records of individual Congressmen both from the House and Senate on that page.

I found this cartoon from Joe Liccar depicting the U.S. Congress score card and thought it was way too generous.

Personally, I would give them a FAIL!

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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Carole January 22, 2012 at 5:37 pm

I say Occupy Congress!!


Larry January 22, 2012 at 7:54 pm

Right on Carole!


Nicole January 22, 2012 at 10:52 pm

Why does that not surprise me? At all?


Ken Billington January 23, 2012 at 1:16 am

The challenge is to sensitize the general population to these issues in advance of the upcoming election.


Stewart M - Australia January 23, 2012 at 1:22 am

Hi there – I have just returned from the wild, woolly and less that wonderful world of wireless only internet – so now I’m catching up.

There are times when I wonder if governments are actually looking at the same world as me. Our ex-prime minister said climate change was ‘the greatest moral challenge of our age’ – then proceeded to do nothing about it!

Cheers – Stewart M – Australia


Mia McPherson January 23, 2012 at 4:26 am

We really need to not only give report cards on the decisions Congress makes about our environment but we also need to hold their feet to the fire when they make the wrong choices.


Larry January 23, 2012 at 5:37 am

@Nicole it is sad but it doesn’t surprise me either

@Ken I’m hoping that as the election draws nearer, more facts come out about the environmental issues at stake when politicians talk about removing regulations to increase jobs. One of the big problems is that people don’t fact check what politicians say. Believe it or not, they lie!

@Stewart I think that many government officials in the U.S. only care about two things, 1) getting reelected and 2) how much money they will receive from the lobbyists. Heck, some politicians still deny that global warming exists!

@Mia I totally agree. I think the problem is that big oil and big business have more clout and more money than environmentalists. I hope that we can change that equation


Ingrid January 24, 2012 at 11:26 pm

Larry, I’m in your court on this one. It concerns me deeply … and the entrenched, monied influences clearly form a multitude of powerful agendas. I do believe there is power in grassroots resistance to the status quo. Even something so seemingly benign as a letter can amplify an alternative voice among the constituency. But I’ve always thought the ultimate solution would be publicly-funded elections. That’s like asking Congress to vote against its own paycheck, though, isn’t it?


Larry January 25, 2012 at 10:24 pm

@Ingrid I agree that publicly-funded elections would go a long way in fixing our broken election system. Oh and how about getting rid of the electoral college and having the candidates elected by popular vote? After all, we do have computers that add up the ballots in real time now 😉

The Supreme Court certainly set our democracy back with their Citizens United ruling allowing unlimited contributions to super PACs


Mia McPherson January 26, 2012 at 8:05 am

Larry, I read an article this morning on a federal “forest management” plan which just seemed to me to be a ploy to allow more logging, more mining and IMO more destruction of federal land.


Sallie (FullTime-Life) January 29, 2012 at 3:19 pm

We are in so much trouble if the Republican Congress is returned along with a Republican President. There won’t be any nature left for our great grandkids to see when they grow up. Get out the vote.


Larry January 29, 2012 at 8:11 pm

@Mia I hope that’s not the case. I read the new rule and it seems to me that it attempts to protect water quality and species biodiversity over consumption. The Sierra Club praised it so lets keep our fingers crossed!

@Sallie I have the same fear. Can you imagine? When all the Republican presidential candidates talk about repealing all the regulations recently passed you know the environment would be the first catastrophe if that nightmare came to pass. Heck, most of them don’t even believe that climate change is real! I just have to shake my head in disbelief.


Larry January 30, 2012 at 6:58 pm

@Mia it appears that I may have been a bit hasty in my reply. I just got an action alert form the Center for Biological Diversity. They suggest sending this letter:
To Secretary Vilsack:

I’m writing to urge you to uphold strong protections for the species and ecosystems that make up America’s 193-million acre national forest system.

The National Forest Management Act regulations released by the Forest Service fail to provide protections necessary to ensure the persistence of fish and wildlife species in our national forest system. While the regulations make strides in some areas, protections for fish and wildlife have been significantly weakened relative to the 1982 regulations. In this era of climate change, it’s critical for the Forest Service to maintain if not strengthen protections for fish and wildlife in our national forest system.

For that reason, I am requesting you make the following six changes to the regulations recently proposed by the Forest Service:

1. The species-specific plan components should not be left to the discretion of the responsible official, but should instead be mandatory requirements.
2. The species-specific plan components necessary to maintain viable populations should apply to focal species in addition to species of conservation concern.
3. The monitoring program should include a requirement to monitor the population trends of focal species and species of conservation concern (as opposed to just the “status” of focal species).
4. The substantive standards and requirements should apply to not only forest plan development, revisions and amendments, but also to site-specific projects.
5. Compliance with the monitoring requirements should be a prerequisite for making a decision to carry out a project or activity that may result in a significant impact on the environment.
6. The pre-decisional objection process should be replaced with a post-decision administrative appeal process.

Thank you for your consideration of these comments.
You can take action on this issue here.


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