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Opinion: GOP launches attack on EPA leaders

EPA administrator Lisa Jackson.

House science committee claims top officials are circumventing federal record-keeping regulations

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — Instead of spending its time doing something productive about global warming or ocean acidification, the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee is of on yet another witch hunt, this time claiming that EPA officials have been conducting official business through secretive means such as aliases and private email accounts.

Remember, this is the same science committee that includes members who deny evolution and buy into the myth of creationism. The committee’s normal business is to oversee federal science activities, but under the leadership of reactionary conservative Republicans, this committee, like many others, has lost its way — No wonder Congress hasn’t been able to make any progress on issues that really matter to the American people. Continue reading

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Romney’s lunar-landing reference beyond ironic

The 1969 moon landing was an example of American collectivism at its best, the antithesis of what the Republican Party stands for in 2012. Photo courtesy NASA.

Opinion: Space program driven by a vision for the common good of mankind

By Bob Berwyn

If I were to give Mitt Romney the benefit of the doubt after his acceptance speech, I would say his reference to the moon landing was a plea for national unity on crucial issues, or an appeal to find common ground to move ahead toward goals all Americans can support.

But in reality, the lines were inserted by his committee of speech writers as a grasping reference to current events. And Romney managed to turn even this shining example of the American can-do spirit at its best into a shrill pitch for nationalism and American exceptionalism.

And it’s beyond ironic that he chose the space program, which illustrates American collectivism at its best — not to mention that it was initiated by a president who would repudiate nearly all of Romney’s notions of what it means to be American. Continue reading

Global warming: Politics overwhelm the science

Earth. PHOTO COURTESY NASA.

Split between parties plants seeds of doubt

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — The science of climate change may be based on a widespread consensus, but that is not reflected by the political realities in Washington, where the issue has polarized Democrats and Republicans along party lines.

And that schism has led to an erosion of public belief that global warming is a threat human health and welfare. Public acceptance of the climate change threat was greatest in 2006-2007, when there was broad agreement among lawmakers on the issue, according to Ohio State University professor J. Craig Jenkins, who recently co-authored a study on public climate change perceptions. Since those years of bipartisan agreement,  public concern has dropped.

National political leaders influence how much Americans worry about the threat of climate change more than extreme weather events and the work of scientists the study found. Continue reading

Environment: House Republicans slash $1 billion from USDA’s voluntary conservation and wildlife habitat programs

Voluntary wetlands and wildlife conservation programs are on the Republican chopping block.

‘Penny-wise and dollar-foolish’ policy, conservation groups say

By Summit Voice

The U.S. House of Representatives this week cut almost  $1 billion from U.S. Department of Agriculture conservation programs for Fiscal Year 2012, spurring criticism from environmental groups.

“We realize that Congress faces tough budget choices, but making draconian cuts to voluntary conservation programs that help farmers and ranchers provide all Americans with cleaner air and water, more productive soils and habitat for wildlife is penny-wise and dollar-foolish,” said Sara Hopper, agricultural policy director for Environmental Defense Fund and a former staff member of the Senate Agriculture Committee. “The Senate needs to restore reasonable funding levels for conservation programs for the benefit of our environment and taxpayers.” Continue reading

Op-ed: Republican theater of the absurd on global warming

House holds hearing on bill that would strip EPA‘s authority to regulate greenhouse gases

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — Surreal politics trumped reason and science in Washington, D.C. Wednesday, as Congressional Republicans tried to put up a major roadblock on the country’s path toward a sane and sustainable energy future. Specifically, Representative Fred Upton, the new Republican chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee introduced a bill that would block the EPA’s ability to regulate greenhouse gases.

EPA plans to require new pollution controls on big plants are based on massive volumes of peer-reviewed science, all pointing toward the same conclusion — heat-trapping greenhouse gases are a threat to public health and the environment.

The Republican argument to strip away the EPA’s regulatory authority, on the other hand, is based on unfounded claims that the rules would drive jobs abroad — not to mention a fundamental denial of the science of climate change.

“I know American manufacturers can compete, but not if they are saddled with burdensome regulations that put us at an unfair advantage,” Upton said to the committee in an initial hearing on the bill. Continue reading

Incoming Republicans call for more offshore drilling

The Deepwater Horizon offshore drilling rig on fire April 21, 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico. U.S. COAST GUARD PHOTO.

New House majority could push offshore drilling in the Arctic

By Summit Voice

The presumptive next chairman of the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee said Sunday on Platts Energy Week television that he would support expanding oil and natural gas development off the East and West coasts of the United States, where it has been ruled out either formally or informally over the last 30 years.

Representative Doc Hastings of Washington state, whom Republicans are expected to select as the committee’s chairman in December, acknowledged that the oil and gas industry needs to show it can drill more safely, in light of the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico this year, but suggested that the United States’ need for domestic oil means more Outer Continental Shelf production is critical. Continue reading

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