The nation is set to suffer another series of assaults on air quality introduced during the past week. Republican members of congress from Texas and Missouri have decided that eroding limits on emissions, while weakening target dates for smog reduction, is in everyone’s best interests – including manufacturers in their local districts. While Californians face the greatest danger from these shameless policies, the entire nation needs to start heeding the drastic regression in environmental standards the Republican-controlled government has force-fed the entire nation.
The first measure, proposed by U.S. Sen. Christoper “Kit” Bond, R-Mo., will prevent California – the state with the dirtiest air – from setting higher pollution standards for small engine exhaust. This comes in spite of California’s special provision in the 1990 Clean Air Act, in which the state was given the right to raise the bar in pollution control for obvious reasons.
Bond claimed the passage of the bill from committee to the floor was a “victory for the thousands of families in Missouri, and across the nation, whose jobs were threatened by California’s attempt to force-feed the nation dangerous new regulations.” It so happens that Briggs and Stratton – one of the largest small-engine manufacturers in the nation – is housed in Bond’s district and ironically has admitted that the California regulations will have no “material effect on its financial condition.”
U.S. Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, has tacked on a new Environmental Protection Agency policy to the massive energy bill, awaiting congressional approval, stipulating exemptions from smog reduction targets for several U.S. cities – one being Dallas, Barton’s home district. The amendment allows cities exemptions based on whether smog drifts into their metropolitan area from nearby power plants. The addition came after intense lobbying by coal-burning utilities and businesses.
It is chokingly clear some Republican leaders care little about the quality of the earth’s air, let alone the quality of fellow citizens’ air, just a few states away.