Republican Congressmen sabotaging environmental legislation

July 31, 2011

The Constitution says the legislative branch of government makes the laws and the executive branch implements and administers them.

While the tea party wing of the Republican party was holding the country hostage and taking us on a suicidal dive, no one noticed they were also turning our Constitutional principle of separation of powers on its head by using an appropriations bill to subvert legislative intent and roll back environmental protections.

Some 40 years ago Congress passed protective legislation to ensure Americans have clean air to breathe, clean water to drink and fewer people dying unnecessarily of pulmonary problems. They acted to preserve of our historic national parks and to protect endangered wildlife. Examples of items Republicans are currently putting into an appropriations bill that would do violence to existing environmental laws and usurp the executive branch's regulatory responsibilities include: preventing the Bureau of Land Management from designating wilderness areas for protection; preventing the Department of the Interior from policing highly destructive mountain top removal mining; allowing new uranium prospecting within one of America's greatest jewels, the Grand Canyon National Park; and preventing the Fish and Wildlife Service from protecting any new plants or animals. The number of such new legislative requirements buried in a pending appropriations bill is rapidly approaching 100.

Why, you may ask, would a U.S. Representative want to sabotage important public health policies and enforcement regulations that protect constituents? This outrageous 21st century sneak attack is another brazen attempt to return our nation to a robber baron culture where quid pro quo rewards go to special interest polluters — like the mining and oil industries — who finance the politicians in question.

Roger C. Kostmayer, Baltimore

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