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Exclusive Interview: Rep. Donald McEachin Expects Republicans Will “Wage War on the Environment,” Calls It “Really Tragic”

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In part 1 of my interview with Rep. Donald McEachin, we discussed his move from the Virginia General Assembly to the U.S. House of Representatives. In part 2, we turned to Rep. McEachin’s views on Donald Trump and the reaction to Trump by Democrats, liberals, progressives, etc. Now, in the final installment, we discuss environmental issues. Note that Rep. McEachin is on the House Committee on Natural Resources, also that he’s been an environmental and clean energy champion for years.

I asked Rep. McEachin whether he thought Republicans were going to go all out to roll back environmental regulations, like the Stream Protection Rule, which House Republicans voted last week to repeal. Rep. McEachin said that was “a relatively small regulation in the grand scheme of things,” simply “required them to be forthright, truthful about what was going on.” But in general, Rep. McEachin expects that Republicans “are going to go full tilt [against] the environment…they’re going to wage war on the environment.” 

The thing that, as you know, we don’t have a lot of time on the clock. It’s bad enough that the Paris Climate Accords only hold the temperature rise to 2 degrees [Celsius] – hopefully. Desmund Tutu has said that the Third World can’t afford the 2-degree impact. So we don’t have time for the nonsense that Republicans are about to bring forward [on the environment], it’s really tragic.

I noted that Republicans backed off, at least for now, on selling off public lands after a public outcry, including by outdoorsmen, hunters, fishermen, etc.  I asked Rep. McEachin if that coalition could potentially be a potent counterforce to Republicans’ anti-environmental efforts. Rep. McEachin responded:

I think in part. You know, one of the interesting things about the environment is that it is a place where the religious right and the religious left intersect over the notion of Creation Care. We’re looking for places to be hopeful, so that’s a place where we can be hopeful and try to forge coalitions along with the sportsmen, etc. We’re going to have to depend on the Senate to stop [a lot of the anti-environmental measures coming out of the House], because we’ll just get steamrolled here.

I asked Rep. McEachin if the fact that clean energy is booming in the Great Plains, Rocky Mountains, Desert Southwest and many other “red” states won’t result in Republican support for the environment in Congress?  Rep. McEachin responded:

The way these Congressional districts are configured, it really does lead to, in the Republican case, a far-right agenda. That’s why I say it gets stopped in the Senate, because the Senators have the the luxury and the responsibility of worrying about their states’ economy. In the Congressional districts, they’re just not going to worry about that…

P.S. On an unrelated note, we were joking around at one point about the Washington NFL team, and Rep. McEachin said he could never play for those guys, “under no circumstances.” I asked why, and he said because of a “plethora of reasons,” including that he doesn’t like their name “and they’re terrible.” LOL