As ThinkProgress has extensively reported, the new Republican Congress, elected with tens of millions in polluter-funded attack ads, campaign contributions, and shadowy front groups, has made weakening environmental safeguards, particularly from the EPA, atop priority. Now, Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL) is making it even more explicit: if Americans elect more Republicans to office in the 2012 elections, the GOP will get rid of the EPA.
Speaking on an Internet radio program yesterday, Rogers explained that a Republican-controlled House, Senate, and White House would make “dramatic changes,” not only in gutting Medicare and Social Security, but discontinuing the EPA:
ROGERS: You know the fact is, if in fact I think the American people do next November what they started last November, that is, cleaning house, and we do get a Republican-controlled Senate and a Republican president, I think you going to see some dramatic structural changes in this country because we can’t continue to suppor this infrastructure we have. And I’m not talking about just changes to the trust funds and the entitlement programs. You know, we gotta look at what we really need to be doing, and what we don’t need to be doing. For example, we didn’t have an EPA under Jimmy Carter. Who says the federal government has to have an EPA. Every state has their own environmental protection agency. Why does the federal government need to be doing that? Department of Education: I’m a big believer that education is a state and local matter, why do we need a federal department of education? I think we’ll have to look at a lot of things that we’re doing at the federal level and ask ourselves, ‘is this really what the federal role?’ And if not, discontinue it.
Rogers’ claim that President Carter “didn’t have” an EPA is peculiar. The EPA was started by President Nixon in 1970, and Carter had his own administrator, Douglas Costle, who used the agency to start spurring innovation in renewable energy. Despite Rogers’ insistence on state-based environmental, pollution affecting the water table, rivers, streams, and the atmosphere are not bound by state borders.
Later in the interview, the host asks Rogers about a story regarding a coal executive “going Galt” and exclaiming that he’s quitting at a public hearing. The hearing was convened to discuss the fact that coal mining has produced toxic pollutants near schools and in waterways in Alabama. The congressman responds by saying he’s familiar with that story, and that he’s disgusted by the EPA sticking its “oppressive…tentacles” into the lives of businesses and individuals, “making it next to impossible for companies to survive in this country.”
While Rogers’ statements may seem comically ignorant, he is deadly serious about the GOP’s intentions. Republicans presidential hopefuls from Rep. Michele Bachmann (MN) to Newt Gingrichhave called for abolishing the agency, and Senate Republicans actually have a bill to make that hope a reality. Meanwhile, House Republicans have defunded the EPA, while tacking riders onto spending bills to bar it from enforcing regulations on clean air and clean water. A clean GOP sweep in 2012 would make an outright repeal of the EPA easy.