Republicans Fouling the Air: Obstruction Turned Destruction

Martin Voelker
CRES Jefferson County Chapter

I much admire Citizens’ Climate Lobby activists who develop polite relationships with Republican politicians, looking for common goals. But what can you do when common goals are being trampled to score ideological points – with ‘ideological’ being a synonym for ‘factually wrong and dangerous?’

The latest exhibit of State Republican obstruction is the impending shut down of the division that enforces air quality standards and pollution controls in Colorado. What better common goal could there be than to reduce pollution from the air we all breathe? Dirty air doesn’t care about anybody’s party affiliation!

Now it appears that all 96 professionals who run Colorado’s air quality programs may lose their jobs (despite the fact that they’re securely funded through fees, not taxes!) while the state might be hit by massive fines and EPA regulatory takeover for failing its air quality obligations. As Erin Overturf with Western Resource Advocates points out it also means that no permits will be issued, sending the regulated industry and many small businesses into chaos and delay.

At the root of this construction lies the wrongheaded current Republican dogma to deny the manmade nature of Climate Change. Republicans also refuse to accept the law of the land which since 2007 defines CO2 a pollutant under the Clean Air Act and gives the EPA the mandate to reduce carbon pollution. They reflexively unleashed a barrage of politically motivated lawsuits against the EPA’s implementation tool, the Clean Power Plan (CPP), resorting to dubious appeals to “states’ rights.” Attorney General Cynthia Coffman’s own suit – against the will of Governor Hickenlooper – is a good example. Her legal boilerplate conveniently ignores that where pollution crosses state borders federal regulations have a legitimate role and long legal standing. Adding to the trouble is the unprecedented stay of CPP’s implementation pending those lawsuits issued days before the death of Antonin Scalia by the Supreme court.

As per usual Republicans are fighting dirty to preserve dirty, over the health and livelihoods of everyone else. It begs the question whether they are motivated by ideology or are simply fronting for a doomed fossil fuel industry which lavishly funds their election campaigns.

This hostile flavor of Republicanism makes one wish for “compassionate conservatism” – then again, that was nothing but a slogan.