The quest to rapidly deteriorate America’s air and water, to exterminate untold numbers of species, and to eradicate unspeakable numbers of public lands and its existing habitat continues in earnest in the House of Representatives by our good friends the Tea Party Republicans. When $1.6 trillion was stripped from the EPA budget earlier this year in April, the effects on environmental programs were then thought to be disastrous. Now, with even deeper cuts to the EPA’s and Interior Department’s budgets, the negative impacts will be multiplied.
What these Republican lawmakers do not care to understand is that environmental health is tied directly and indirectly to economic health. If, for instance, you’re a big agribusiness farming company who continually damages your soil through negligence, you will lose money in the short-run, the long-run, or both. Or, if you are a utility that burns coal for electricity, it’s good business practice to not poison surrounding communities of inhabitants, individuals who are also more than likely your customers.
That this issue is even being discussed, is even being questioned, owes a lot to the brilliant rhetoric and illogical basis upon which many within the Republican Party have made arguments against environmental protection. They point to the uncertainties inherent in science or they speak conspiratorially about the “liberal agenda,” an agenda which has as much basis in truth as Big-foot but one that still has the effect of stirring conservative constituents into rapid political action. It is a line that liberals feel compelled to defend against instead of focusing on the issues of real importance and substance.
But while the Tea Partiers play politics, America as we know it, and indeed the world, is becoming more and more a playground for big businesses and moneyed interests. Public lands that should benefit everyone are usurped under the private umbrella of multinational x, y, or z. The larger theme of an overall conservative agenda that has business interests as its exclusive focus is thus being developed within the debates over environmental protection.
We see it in Virginia as we do elsewhere across the country. The Chesapeake Bay remains “impaired” with few signs that the Bay States are coming together to form a sustainable solution. In the meantime, tributaries to the Chesapeake continue to be used as dumping grounds for waste of various kinds and play fields for algae blooms that suck the oxygen out of larger and larger amounts of the bay. These “dead zones” have caused major economic devastation for fishermen and women who depend on the marine wildlife that is being decimated by these oxygen-less spaces.
Environmental health is not an issue that’s up for negotiation and no price is too high to preserve the natural wonders that still remain. Libertarians and conservatives have attempted to undermine decades of environmental protection legislation. But now it’s time to finally stand up and fight back. If we don’t, they won’t be anything left to fight for in the generations to come. Is that the America you want for your children?