‘Earth Day’: Where are the Republican Environmentalists?

‘Earth Day’: Where are the Republican Environmentalists?


How will you celebrate Earth Day? Will you cut down some trees or turn on every light in your house? (All suggestions courtesy of Glenn Beck.) Maybe you’ll celebrate the inventor of plastic bags? (That one’s on Rush Limbaugh.) Of course, these two are always out to rile the crowds, but, seriously, where are the Republican environmentalists?

Does that mean we don’t want clean air or clean water? Not at all! There are Republican environmentalists. …It’s just we don’t see them very often. In fact, Republicans haven’t even uttered “Earth Day” in Congress since 2010, according to the National Journal.

At least the Mother Nature Network, of all places, can name ten of ’em. We can claim Theodore Roosevelt and Richard Nixon. The former being responsible for the U.S. Forest Service and for protecting “approximately 230,000,000 acres of public land.” And, despite the bad rap, Nixon had a huge influence on environmental policy which, good and bad, includes the creation of the EPA. It’s been a while though since their days.

It doesn’t sound environmentally-friendly but most of the Republican focus has been on fighting government overreach, protecting local economies, and defending property rights. It sounds like the opposite of protecting the environment but, hold on, it has merit.

For example, under the Clean Water Act, the EPA can effectively kill a project (and a business) with a retroactive veto. A mining project can spend millions of dollars, get the all-clear on permits, and then have the project completely disrupted because the EPA changes its mind AFTER permits have been issued.

Case in point: The Spruce Mine in West Virginia. After a 10 year-long process, the U.S. Army Corps issued their permit for this coal project in early 2007. Along the way – with EPA oversight – the footprint of the proposed mine was reduced more than 25%, a development that might, in less fraught times, point to the responsiveness of the federal process to expert opinion and community input.

No matter. Two years later, the EPA rescinded Spruce’s permit. Since then, the battle over the Spruce Mine has shifted into the U.S. courts, with split decisions rising last week to the Supreme Court, which returned the case to lower courts for adjudication on the merits. In other words, 17 years after Spruce entered — and completed — the federal permitting process, it’s still not clear if the mine can be built.

If EPA’s ex post facto execution of Spruce stands, no mining company can ever be confident that the permits it receives after years of effort and hundreds of millions of expense – will be worth the paper they’re written on. (FoxNews)

That’s crazy. Admittedly, mining companies have a huge effect on the environment, but the EPA’s handling of this was outrageous.

It’s not just major companies being affected by the actions of the EPA. This is something Andy Johnson and his family are learning the hard way after building a stock pond five years ago. He got permits from the state. Everything was in the clear for 3 years and then the EPA comes by and says it’s a no-go.

They’re facing “$75,000 per day fine — a penalty often reserved for companies that emit toxic hazards — until he tears it all down.” (Deseret News)

We may not be talking about hardcore Republican environmentalists, but is the EPA really doing Planet Earth a favor… or are they making a killing with all the permits and fines that they can come up with? They’re even regulating “cow farts” now. No wonder conservative media jockeys make fun of Earth Day.


What’s your take? Do we need to get more involved with the environment? Or more involved with what the EPA does? Comment below! Give us a shout-out on Facebook and Twitter.


(Photo courtesy of oinonio, via Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0)



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