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What the GOP Senate Could Mean for the Environment

The next chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will likely be Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe, a well-known and outspoken climate change denier. In 2012, citing Genesis 8:22 in the Bible, he said, “‘as long as the earth remains there will be seed time and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer, day and night.’ My point is, God’s still up there. And this is the, the arrogance of people who think that we human beings would be able to change what He is doing in the climate is to me, outrageous.”

Since Inhofe rejects the likes of the consensus of global scientists who recently issued yet another dire report, God, who is “still up there” may want to don a gas mask prior to the dismantling of the Clean Air Act and deregulation of carbon emissions. Jonathan Atler of The Daily Beast writes:

Inhofe is not just a climate-change denier; he is a warrior for corporate-funded half-truths and outright lies. While McConnell and other Republican candidates this year have adopted the mantra, “I’m not a scientist” to dodge pesky climate-change questions, Inhofe charges ahead with an Orwellian argument.

In his 2012 book, The Greatest Hoax: How the Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Your Future, Inhofe explains how he is a prophet without honor in his time. “First I stood alone in saying that anthropogenic [manmade] catastrophic global warming is a hoax,” he writes, launching into an attack on Al Gore. “Now Gore stands alone in his dismissal of reform, openness, transparency and peer-review to ensure good science.”

Further assuring EPA carbon emissions deregulation, Senator Mitch McConnell, who will be the next Senate Majority Leader, promised to end the Environmental Protection Agency’s regulations on carbon pollution from power plants. Rebecca Leber of the New Republic writes:

The EPA is within its authority to regulate greenhouse gasses—the Supreme Court has already decided that. But Republicans can still block this and other EPA regulations by attaching riders to appropriations bills prohibiting the EPA from enforcing its rules. Or Republicans could achieve a similar effect by simply stalling the EPA—like passing proposed legislation that would require several government agencies to certify carbon regulations will come at no cost to the economy.

The Senate also now has enough votes to pass the Keystone XL Pipeline approval bill. With a filibuster-proof Senate majority, the Senate will have enough votes to force the approval of the 1600-mile-long pipeline that is proposed to run from Canada to Texas. Final approval of the Trans-Canada Keystone XL pipeline will require a signature from the President.

In addition to gutting the Clean Air Act as well as blocking any clean water proposals, look for the Endangered Species Act to be gutted as well.

“Whenever we show the wisdom to use it, the Endangered Species Act continues to succeed in preventing species extinction,” said Hartl. “But rather than strengthening the law by better funding conservation efforts, House Republicans are showing their true vitriol toward our most imperiled wildlife by limiting use of the Act and proposing changes to the law that will directly harm species.”


“These bills are not solutions designed to conserve and recover endangered species, they’re extinction decrees,” said Hartl. “While Republicans make a point of claiming to care about endangered species, as these bills demonstrate, they routinely oppose the on-the-ground steps necessary to actually prevent the extinction of particular species.”

It’s not even about not protecting. Rather, it appears to be about a willful race to destroy, deregulate and deliberately increase damage to the environment. Because they can.

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