Photo: laszlo-photo via Flickr/CC BY
And the bar has officially been lowered. If the media sees it somehow newsworthy that "greens" are not absolutely "friendless" in the House GOP merely because a few Republicans voted to allow the Endangered Species Act to continue to exist -- as this report from a mainstream newspaper does -- we are in dire straits indeed. Just witness this vain attempt to cast some members of the GOP Congress as green-friendly -- frankly, it's pathetic.
Here's Politico: "Dozens of purple-state Republicans have broken ranks with their party leadership to take the pro-green position during floor and committee votes spanning more than 100 bills and amendments." Dozens! Literally dozens! Okay, so far, so good ... "Granted, the defections seldom come all at the same time, meaning the number of actual environmental victories can be counted on one hand." And there it is -- essentially, a handful of Republicans have occasionally broken ranks to protest NIMBY projects that their states would object to, or to vote against something so egregious that anyone but a stalwart, balls-to-the-wall Tea Partier would have to admit is crazy.
One of those "surprising" victories? Some Republicans voted to allow the Endangered Species Act to continue to exist: "Rep. Fred Upton, once known as a moderate on green issues, has taken the party line since his successful run for the chairmanship of the Energy and Commerce Committee. But the Michigan Republican surprised many when he voted with Democrats to preserve the Endangered Species Act."
Wow! What boldness! Not conceding the total abolition of one of the few tools we have to protect dwindling populations of threatened animals, which are often vital to the survival of various ecosystems? Give him the green badge of honor!
In fact, the only thing each "green-friendly" Republican the article cites has done for the environment is occasionally not voted to obliterate it. One once voted in favor of funding the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's climate service. One voted to keep devastating uranium mining out of the Grand Canyon. Another, voted to approve one -- gasp! -- EPA regulation of toxic emissions.
Like I said -- calling any of these folks 'green' on these grounds isn't just misguided, it's pathetic. None has done anything that would remotely improve the environment's well-being or the quality of air we breathe and the water we drink. And each and every one of them voted to strip the EPA's authority to enforce the Clean Air Act.
I could continue my diatribe, but I'll let Politico's quote from the Republican Sherwood Boehlert, a former Rep. of New York who's an honorary board member of Republicans for Environmental Protection sum it all up:
"It should be an embarrassment for the party. There are several more, in magnitudes of 10, who'd like to [vote to protect the environment] it but find it politically inconvenient or feel it'd create too much angst in certain segments of their constituency."
What brave, courageous defenders of the environment, these.