Republicans Answer Pope With Bill Banning Govt From Protecting Climate

Dave Johnson

In honor of Pope Francis’ address to Congress, House Republicans are taking up their “Responsibly And Professionally Invigorating Development”, or RAPID, Act. (Democrats are calling it the “Regrettably Another Partisan Ideological Distraction.”)

With this bill Republicans are basically saying “This is our answer to you, Pope-guy.” The bill bans government from even considering whether a project will contribute to climate change: “A lead agency may not use the social cost of carbon in the environmental review or environmental decision making process.”

Sofia Tesfaye writes at Salon, in “GOP thumbs its nose at Pope Francis immediately after congressional speech with attack on climate science”:

The EPA defines the social cost of carbon, or SCC, as “an estimate of the economic damages associated with a small increase in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, conventionally one metric ton, in a given year.” The dollar figure, “represents the value of damages avoided for a small emission reduction (i.e. the benefit of a CO2reduction).”

[. . .] the social cost of carbon simply considers the cost of damages as a result of carbon emissions like greater flood risks or loss of crops due to increased droughts.

The RAPID Act is designed to get government out of the way of big corporations by prohibiting the government from stopping polluters and companies that endanger the health and safety of the public. For example, the bill sets up unrealistic deadlines for approval of projects, and says that if the deadlines are not met the project is considered approved! So if there is a complex environmental, health, safety, etc. issue that takes some time to look into, the project just goes ahead. The more dangerous the project the more likely it is to just go ahead, because the deadline for considering how dangerous it is can’t be met!

The bill also blocks “potentially critical input from federal, state, and local agencies as well as from members of the public to comment on environmentally-sensitive construction projects that are federally-funded or that require federal approval.”

The White House says the President will veto the bill if it passes, because, “if enacted, would lead to more confusion and delay, limit public participation in the permitting process, and ultimately hamper economic growth.”

Corporate/conservative-funded focus groups have apparently told Republicans to say the bill contains, “procedures to streamline the regulatory review, environmental decision making, and permitting process for major federal actions,” such as construction projects.

This kind of weakening of the regulatory process in ways that hamstring the ability of government to protect the public has been a key part of the Republican agenda.

Thursday’s post, “VW Case Shows Need For More And Bigger Government,” began:

Again and again we hear about corporations doing bad things so they can make more money: polluting, selling contaminated food or otherwise harming people’s health, selling products that injure people or just don’t do what they advertise, tricking and scamming people out of their money, selling banned goods or providing financial services for terrorists or drug cartels, and so many other things that are not good for people or society.

Wouldn’t it be great if there were some entity that was more powerful than these corporations, whose purpose is to protect us, reign these corporations in, make and enforce rules, prosecute offenders and put a stop to this stuff?

Rather than helping out government protect us, reign these corporations in, make and enforce rules, prosecute offenders, and put a stop to this stuff, the RAPID Act demonstrates that corporations can and do influence Republicans to weaken and defund government. They are instead intent on taking away government’s ability to protect We the People from corporate scams, frauds, pollution and harm.

Imagine the VW situation if Republicans had already had their way: It’s quite likely there would not be a pollution rule for VW to violate; if there was a violation, the EPA would not have had the power or capacity to discover it; and VW would have been effectively left immune from liability in the courts as well thanks to tilted liability rules and “business-friendly” (i.e. corrupt) Republican judges.

Wouldn’t it be great if there were some entity that was more powerful than these corporations, whose purpose is to protect us, reign these corporations in, make and enforce rules, prosecute offenders and put a stop to this stuff? The Republicans are again trying to make sure there is not.

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