Don’t think there are still politicians out there indebted to big oil? Think again! This week, the United States Senate finally passed their 2014 federal budget. Senators introduced hundreds of amendments for consideration; however, it was the conservative leaders in particular who introduced amendments that would have drastically undercut climate policies. Coming as no surprise here, these politicians would rather protect their own interests and fight for big oil then protect the public and fight for green energy.
Here’s a list of the 7 most egregious amendments that were NOT included in the budget, but could’ve been if they had past the floor.
- Blunt #261 would’ve blocked future legislation from imposing a carbon tax to reduce industrial pollution. The amendment would allow any carbon tax measure to be turned down by a three-fifths vote. And yet, the impacts of global warming have been felt regularly over the past two years. In 2011 and 2012, the U.S. suffered from 25 climate related storms, heat waves, drought, floods, and wildfires that caused an estimated $188 billion in damages.
- Inhofe #359 would’ve prevented the Environmental Protection Agency from enforcing the Clean Air Act, which regulates pollutant emissions. The EPA proposed the carbon standard for new power plants back in 2012 since power plants are responsible for two-fifths of U.S. carbon pollution.
- Murkowski #370 would’ve “increased oil and natural gas production on federal lands and waters,” despite oil production operating at its highest level in several decades. In addition, the Congressional Research Service noted that oil production on federal land was up from 2008 despite a rise in fracking operations on nonfederal lands. The problem? Fracking has the potential to pollute wells, poison livestock and create any number of unpredictable ecological problems.
- Cruz #470 would’ve limited the amount of federally-owned land in each state -- a conservative attempt to hand public property over to private institutions in order to expand drilling operations. The government currently controls 500 million acres of public land which provides two million jobs and over $300 billion in economic stimulus.
- Coats #514 would’ve made cuts to essential protections guaranteed by the Clean Air Act by authorizing the President to pardon any company from complying with air toxics standards for a two-year period. The amendment would’ve essentially offered a “get-out-of-jail-free” card to coal-burning power plants. What’s the worst that could happen? Well, methyl-mercury from coal pollution accrues in fish, which can poison pregnant women. It can impair brain development in young children, including memory, language, and attention span. By keeping coal-burning power plants up-to-date and under-code, it’s estimated that the Clean Air Act prevents up to 17,000 premature deaths each year. The EPA concluded that “the value of these (lives) would amount to $37–90 billion per year.”
- Alexander #516 would’ve repealed the wind production tax credit. This credit of 2.2 cents per kilowatt hour of electricity entices people to invest in wind energy. Over the past century, big oil companies have accepted $80 in support for every $1 towards renewable energy alternatives.
- Vitter #544 would’ve stripped the President of the authority to protect the nation’s historical landmarks under the Antiquities Act. Since its inception in 1906, the Antiquities Act has protected sites like the Statue of Liberty, the Grand Canyon, Muir Woods, Acadia, and Zion.
The world is finally starting to come around to the effects of global warming. However, if you’re waiting for your elected officials to get things done for you, you may be waiting a while. Take a stand against big oil. Fight for clean energy. Fight for the future. Visit nrglab.asia for more information on how you can be a force for change.
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