Friday, August 19, 2011

Hello, Carbon Dioxide

If there is one thing the cadre of Republican presidential candidates can all agree on, it's that they want to destroy the "job-killing" Environmental Protection Agency.  They think clean air and clean water are overrated. The government is trying to dictate our lung function.  We have the right to breathe all the air we want, no matter the color.  It's equal opportunity air.

Michele Bachmann, for one, wants to totally dismantle the "job-killing organization of America".  Proud mother of five womb-derived and 23 foster children that she is, she vows to make EPA "the mother of all repeal bills."  You'd think she might  have a vested personal interest in air quality, given that some scientific studies point to a correlation between high pollution levels and emergency room visits for migraine headaches.  Then again, the Teapublicans are famous for pretending to scoff at elitist science on purely fake religious grounds. But it's really all about the money, honey. If evolution were a profit-maker, they'd be all for it.

Rick Perry, who gained national notoriety for his pre-announcement Christian prayer-fest in Texas, is even more of an opportunistic crony capitalist than true right-wing ideologue. (Thanks to Marie Burns of for this link). 

So who is really behind this venomous anti-EPA Republican campaign issue?  Not ordinary self-professed Republicans, who when polled, like the agency just fine and want it funded.  Look no further than the Business Roundtable and its corporate cousins, comprising the most powerful CEOs on the planet.

 Big Business put enormous pressure on the White House to delay new ozone emission standards for a record fourth time.  It just costs them too much to give up polluting.  The talking points in their letter to Obama* could have come right out of the Bachmann/Perry playbook, which really derive from the corporate playbook under the guise of that good old-time religion. If God didn't want us to breathe his air, he wouldna given us lungs... or something.

So, while the circumspect, rational and pragmatic President Obama would never go all fire and brimstone in calling for the end of the EPA itself, he is performing his Democratic corporatist role of defanging it, tooth by tooth, behind closed doors, at the behest of the powerful vested interests he, too, serves.  No explanation, either -- simply that the EPA needs more time to "study" how best to implement the tough new ozone rules.  Is it any coincidence that some of the major polluters/ "job creators" are in swing states crucial to the president's re-election?  One of Obama's overriding mantras in his jobs agenda is to make it easier for businesses to hire.  That means code for easing environmental regulations.

And the BRT cohort is most grateful to Obama for seeing things from their perspective.  From their Aug. 12 press release:  "The decision by the Environmental Protection Agency to seek further delay on its proposed ozone rules tells us the Obama Administration recognizes the disastrous consequences that more restrictive regulations would have on the economy and job creation." (bold mine).

So there you have it, people.  You can either breathe or you can find a job.  You can't have both.  Wheeze while you work, (if you can) and stop griping about the heat dome overhead.  You can't actually see pollutants, can you?  They're a mirage, just like Perry's Texas Miracle. By creating yet another kicked can, our government (which purports to work in our best interests) has just become complicit in an estimated 12,000 deaths and 58,000 asthma attacks during the coming year.

*Text of  August 3 Letter to Obama:

Dear Mr. President:

As associations that represent thousands of American businesses, both large and small, who employ millions of U.S. workers, we are deeply concerned about the harmful impact the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) proposed final rule on ground-level ozone could have on U.S. job creation and economic recovery. We strongly urge you to refrain from finalizing this rule and instead wait for the scientific review process currently underway in support of the required 2013 review to take its course.
All of us value clean air. The companies we represent, their employees and their managers all care about the quality of the air that Americans breathe. All of us breathe the same air and so do our families. We appreciate the fact that ground-level ozone levels continue to drop across most of the United States under the current de facto standard established in 1997. Moreover, U.S. companies are proactively making significant investments to meet the stricter de jure standard established in 2008, even though it has not yet been implemented.
The newest standard proposed by EPA, however, likely would cast hundreds of counties across the United States out of compliance, making it difficult for businesses to build new facilities in those counties or expand existing ones. Further, EPA has estimated the proposed standard will cost between $20 and $90 billion annually. In our view, EPA’s estimate is based on optimistic assumptions about the development of new control technology, meaning that the costs and impact on jobs and economic growth could be much worse.
What we do know for certain is that EPA’s proposed rule, whether the final standard is 0.060 parts per million (ppm) or 0.070 ppm, would limit business expansion in nearly every populated region of the United States and impair the ability of U.S. companies to create new jobs.
Mr. President, we urge you to delay this discretionary, out-of-cycle ozone standard and wait until 2013 before determining whether a new standard is needed. Now is not the time to saddle our economy with the extraordinary costs associated with EPA’s proposed national ozone standard.
Thank you for your attention to the grave consequences of this proposed rule.
Business Roundtable, American Chemistry Council, American Petroleum Institute, National Association of Manufacturers, U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
And thus, the corporate titans shall give generously to both political parties, each of which shall operate in the interest of the Job Creators, while the Dems and Pubs go on pretending they don't have just tons of stuff in common. 

Job, Created (William Blake)


Anne Lavoie said...

Think of the money they will make on air purifiers! What an investment opportunity.

Of course the average person can barely afford the filters that need to be replaced, never mind the air purifying machine itself. And the dirtier the air, the more frequently you have to buy a new filter. Ka-ching.

Sounds like another great capitalistic scheme to me.

Denis Neville said...

Facts? Bachmann and Perry turn Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s “'Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts,” on its head. Facts are now just whatever anyone wishes to believe. Scientific illiteracy is fertile ground for Bachmann’s and Perry’s appeals based on ignorance.

“One of the biggest changes in politics in my life time is that the delusional is no longer marginal. It has come in from the fringe, to sit in the seats of power…For the first time in our history, ideology and theology hold a monopoly of power in Washington. Theology asserts propositions that cannot be proven true; ideologues hold stoutly to a worldview despite being contradicted by what is generally accepted as reality. The offspring of ideology and theology are not always bad but they are always blind. And that is the danger: voters and politicians alike, oblivious to the facts.” – Bill Moyers, The Delusional Is No Longer Marginal, New York Review of Books, March 24, 2005

Environmental protection? Laws to protect our environment would threaten our disaster capitalistic economy. Do not let reality or facts be an impediment to our folly. There is no fierce urgency of now to protect our environment and human life. Disaster capitalism comes at the expense of human life and nature. One need only remember Obama’s lack of response to the ecological catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico to understand this. Ecological devastation of our planet earth by disaster capitalism will soon match the economic devastation of disaster capitalism.

Marie Burns said...

Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul not only opposes EPA regulation of clean air, he says the EPA itself is unconstitutional. He would disband it. He believes that the best way to deal with pollutants is to allow victims to bring lawsuits against the polluters.

Paul says climate change is not "a major problem threatening civilization." He strongly opposes international treaties like the Kyoto Protocol to cut greenhouse gas emissions, and also opposes domestic progams like cap and trade. He opposes imposing fuel efficiency standards (too bad on this -- Obama just got the auto industry to agree to signficantly higher standards). Paul is against investment in public transportion. But he strongly favors public tax breaks for domestic oil drilling (Alaska? Yes! Offshore drilling? Yes!) & voted no on revoking oil & gas subsidies.

I've noticed some commenters on Sardonicky think Paul would be a good altenative to Obama. Still think so?

Jay - Ottawa said...

"[T]he corporate titans shall give generously to both political parties, each of which shall operate in the interest of the Job Creators, while the Dems and Pubs go on pretending they don't have just tons of stuff in common."

A Teabagger acquaintance asks if he could borrow your ironic last sentence for another one of those serious Amendment thingies to the Constitution.

Neil Gillespie said...

@ Marie Burns

With all due respect, yes Marie, I still support Ron Paul (and Bernie Sanders) over Obama. End the wars and stop the global military empire. The rest are relatively minor Republic talking points. Even if Paul is elected, he won’t get everything he wants. But ending the wars and stopping the global military empire are the first steps in changing direction on many, many problems, from the huge deficits supporting military spending to the artificially low price of gasoline that discourages conservation. The US has not signed Kyoto even with Obama. And the worst air pollution is from an AC-130 gunship.

If Ron Paul can stop the banksters, the Fed, and TBTF (Too Big To Fail) that would be a bonus. Once the money is straightened out, and the wars ended, the other problems can be addressed. Don’t fall into the old trap of looking for the perfect candidate, you’ll get another Obama. Focus on the big stuff, the wars and the banksters...

Denis Neville said...

@ Marie Burns “I've noticed some commenters on Sardonicky think Paul would be a good alternative to Obama. Still think so?”

Paul's views, denial of climate change, opposition to the EPA, big oil tax breaks, opposition to free choice, et al. are repugnant to progressives like me. Yet, as the most anti-war, anti-surveillance-state, anti-crony-capitalism, and anti-drug-war presidential candidate in either party, Ron Paul’s voice should be heard. I am no supporter of Ron Paul, but it is important to note how eagerly and thoroughly our media vanquished him, as Glenn Greenwald, Jon Stewart, and Roger Simon have pointed out. For anyone vainly wishing for a third party alternative, that candidate could just as easily be relegated to “unperson” status by the media.

For those who find Ron Paul’s views to be so disqualifying, do they apply their standards to Obama? – imperial wars, drone attacks on innocent men, women and children, assassinations without due process, our growing surveillance state, Internet controls, requirement that Internet providers save their customer activity logs for one year, the war on whistleblowers, imprisonment of a non-violent climate change protester, etc., etc., etc..

And “folks,” let’s not forget, “we've got to make some modest modifications in programs like Medicare and Social Security.” Meaning, Obama is pushing a new inflation formula that will mean a very real and harmful benefit cuts for the elderly as they grow older. That's our parents and grandparents he's talking about.

Should we, as some suggest by breaking out the “Hope” posters, so meekly accept the Bush-Obama presidency and the misery of austerity - endless unemployment, cuts to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and the social safety net as the richest one percent continues to prosper, while our sons and daughters fight the endless imperial wars for the benefit of our debt-credit industrial defense complex?

Still think Obama represents “Hope?”

Instead of “Hope” posters, perhaps “Not as Savage as the GOP” posters would be better.

Valerie said...


The fact that some of us are even considering Ron Paul - giving him a second look - shows how desperate we are for someone to represent ANY of our interests. We know the Republican candidates won’t and Obama has proven that he doesn't - so we are giving Paul a look.

I can't help but wonder what the hell is going on behind the scenes to keep a progressive candidate from throwing his or her hat into the ring. I have to wonder if there aren't threats coming from within the Democratic Party saying if a challenger upsets the apple cart, that person will become a pariah and the corporate funders will throw money and power and MSM to marginalise that person's candidacy.

I think a lot of Progressives who are going to vote for Obama - not because they like him but because he is the Lesser of Two Evils - are pinning their hopes on 2016. My concern is that our country, at the rate we are going, won’t be much of a democracy in 2016. The time to act is now – but without a courageous leader, our country is in big trouble.

Jay - Ottawa said...

The list compiled by Marie Burns on Ron Paul is formidable. And yet....

Of all the special interests hurting people -- Wall Street, the corporations, the health insurance industry, the ballooning security apparatus, the shredders of the Constitution, and the military -- the Pentagon is the worst. Its wars waste the young dispatched on its missions. Even those who come back without physical injuries suffer holes in their souls, as so many documentaries keep telling us.

Then there is the great uncounted number of civilians who keep getting in the way of all that firepower.

Diplomatically we pay in formal relations between governments; and informally our actions recruit more angry people who are willing to spend their lives resisting us.

The dollar costs of maintaining full control of the sky, the seas and all those bases and outposts around the world are staggering, half the discretionary budget and climbing each year.

Obama will will continue to bow to the generals as he bows to all the other special interests who test him -- or who say they're going to test him, or who might someday think about testing him, or even those who will never think to test him. He's consistent that way. Who expects Obama to hold the line against the elites any better in his second term?

For reasons both moral and fiscal, stopping the wars is the first priority for the nation. The teasing question is whether Ron Paul means what he says about shutting down the military-industrial complex. Or would he turn out to be another candidate who, after attaining office, changes his mind about everything?

Jay - Ottawa said...

Now I realize that Marie's complete list of particulars against Ron Paul was not in her comment above, but on RealityChex. I recommend her post there.

Valerie said...

Just another comment on the EPA and pollution - There are always some common patterns that the Right uses to discredit progressive ideas and this one, that environmental protections are job killers is an old song that we have heard continuously. It is being used right now in Australia where the Green Party is working with Labour to pass a Carbon Tax.
Let us keep in mind the real truth of the matter. Yes, prices would go up because companies/factories that have to use anti-pollution devices would have higher costs of production. And, yes, these extra costs would be passed on to the consumer. But if the American company that was doing the right thing, didn't have to compete with products made by what amounts to slave labour in Third World countries where those factories are allowed to pollute freely, this would be a non-issue. Once again, the problem isn’t the anti-pollution controls that the EPA is trying to enforce, it is a lack of a level playing field.
Until we honestly put Free Trade back on the table, our job situation will not get better. We can have foreign trade, but the benefits of these treaties need to be reaching both sets of populations – not the corporations who are exploiting the situation from both sides.

Valerie said...

Addressing the viability of Ron Paul.

My biggest concern about Ron Paul is that if he were to be elected which agenda would he chop first, the foreign wars or the domestic safety net and regulatory agencies? If we could be assured that he would go after the wars and foreign policy first, I think a lot of Progressives who don't want to give Obama an undeserved vote might vote for Paul. But what if he goes after the domestic programs and never gets around to getting us out of wars?

Anonymous said...

You're a grouch!