Bachmann’s Empty EPA Trash-Talk

September 6th, 2011 at 7:00 am | 18 Comments |

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On a recent campaign stop in Florida, order Michele Bachmann waded into a political swamp by saying that she would drill in the Everglades if that “is where the energy is.” While she gave a cursory nod to drilling responsibly, here it’s clear she had no clue about the environmental or political consequences of what she was proposing.

The Florida Everglades is a treasured natural resource that provides drinking water and other ecological benefits to much of South Florida. The state of Florida and the federal government have spent hundreds of millions of dollars restoring the Everglades—much of that at the direction of GOP Governors Jeb Bush and Charlie Crist. In 2002, remedy the administration of President George W. Bush bought back oil and gas drilling rights in the Everglades for $120 million.

Bachmann apparently does not realize that oil drilling in the Everglades has been studied and that there is broad bi-partisan consensus that it would be foolhardy—very little oil, very high ecological risk.

Even one of her Tea Party colleagues in Congress, Allen West (R-FL) complained that she had committed an “incredible faux pas” by suggesting Everglades drilling. Still, Bachmann stands by the remark.

Bachmann’s drill-the-Everglades brain splat is just one in a long string of whacky, ill-informed and irresponsible comments Bachmann has made about energy and the environment.

She recently claimed that if she were president, gasoline would fall below $2 per gallon. Either she is planning on instigating a massive economic depression, or she is totally ignorant of how the global oil market works. With only 2 percent or so of the world’s proven oil reserves, U.S. production simply cannot impact the price of oil that much. Plus, the U.S. has no control over demand in other countries that puts upward pressure on prices.

Even if Bachmann blindly assumes that our unproven resources are vast, she fails to take into account that those remote and costly-to-produce resources could only be economically produced if the price of oil (and gasoline) were high. Should the price of gasoline drop below $2 per gallon, U.S. oil production would fall off a cliff because producers would seek out less costly OPEC reserves.

Bachmann likes to say that the U.S. is the “big daddy dog” of energy.

One thing she barks about in making that claim is “oil shale.” What she is actually referring to is kerogen, a low-grade hydrocarbon locked away in sedimentary rock. Not only has producing this stuff not been proven practical or commercially viable, it is a poor feedstock for conversion into motor gasoline, which accounts for some 40 percent of U.S. oil consumption.

The wackiness doesn’t end there. Bachmann also is under the erroneous impression that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has “been busy locking up” our supplies of oil and natural gas. The Department of the Interior, not EPA, is the agency responsible for oil and gas leasing and permitting on federal lands and on the Outer Continental Shelf. EPA is responsible for issuing air permits for drilling rigs, but obtaining these is not typically a problem. Furthermore, the number of U.S. drilling rigs in operation has actually increased over the past three years, not decreased.

On another energy issue, Bachmann has repeatedly claimed that a 2007 efficiency standard for lighting bans incandescent bulbs, when simply reading the law and visiting the lighting aisle of any Home Depot clearly proves otherwise.

Of course, Bachmann has infamously pledged to eliminate the EPA. It apparently matters not that she would be undoing the environmental legacies of fellow Republicans Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon.

Reagan’s action to combat smog as governor of California was a model that the federal government followed when Richard Nixon established EPA and Congress passed the Clean Air Act by sweeping bipartisan majorities.

Reagan was proud of what he had accomplished. During a presidential radio address in 1984, he said:

I’m proud of having been one of the first to recognize that states and the federal government have a duty to protect our natural resources from the damaging effects of pollution that can accompany industrial development.

President Reagan, a vigorous proponent of federalism who emphasized the states’ role, was clear in his belief that safeguarding our environment nevertheless requires a strong federal role. He said:

Those concerns of a national character–such as air and water pollution that do not respect state boundaries…–must, of course, be handled on the national level.

While Bachmann scapegoats EPA as a “job killing agency,” she offers no evidence to back up the claim. EPA has been busy during times of both boom and bust. Over the 40 years that EPA has been working to safeguard our air and water by enforcing the nation’s environmental laws, our Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has grown by 200 percent while common pollutants have been reduced by 63 percent.

For anyone concerned about our nation’s future, particularly as it relates to clean air and water and energy security, it should be terrifying to think that any reasonably serious candidate for president—and Bachmann is not alone—can be so ill-informed about energy and so oblivious to our basic stewardship obligations.

It is hard to see anything truly conservative in allowing a rigid ideology or political posture to close one’s mind, cloud judgment, and trump basic facts.

Another Republican, Theodore Roosevelt, warned his fellow Americans against following those leaders who may be well-intentioned “but whose eyes are a little too wild to make it really safe to trust them.”

In the coming months, Republican voters would do well to consider good ole TR’s advice.

Recent Posts by David Jenkins



18 Comments so far ↓

  • Jean Granville

    Bachmann says that she would drill in the Everglades or in any other place if there is something to drill for, provided the drilling is harmless to the environment. The “cursory nod” she gives is a perfectly clear sentence, and since the Everglades are one among several examples of hypothetical locations, the general meaning of her statement seems to be that drilling is not just an environmental nuisance. It is sometimes useful too.

    Likewise, Churchill said that “If Hitler invaded Hell, [he] would make at least a favourable reference to the devil in the House of Commons”, without even a cursory nod to human rights diplomacy, but that didn’t make him a hidden worshipper of Satan.

    • TerryF98

      What do your “inside sources” at the CIA think about this?

    • Frumplestiltskin

      uh yeah, whenever I think of Churchill I invariably think of Bachmann. And it is interesting that you compare oil companies to Satan. I don’t get it, are you writing parody?
      Is Bachmann next going to say we should drill on the moon? Or in trees? How about drill into the statue of Abraham Lincoln? She is a blithering idiot, you don’t make suggestions to drill in places where oil is not just to make the point you are willing to drill anywhere. Why the hell doesn’t she then set up an oil rig in her backyard then and put her money where her mouth is?

  • Stewardship

    Bachman is a RINO. Mainstream Republicans (granted, a rather silent group these days) care about good stewardship of our natural resources, and are proud of the GOP’s great conservation legacy. Unfortunately, Mainstreamers get labeled as RINO’s by the whack jobs who, in a blind taste test, would spit out Reagan today.

  • Watusie

    I find posts like these, which all basically boil down to an educated person wailing “how on earth did we ever throw our lot in with this bunch of fundy-nutty MORONS?” – to be somewhat poignant.

  • balconesfault

    Has Jenkins noticed that Rick Perry has been waging outright war against the EPA for years?

    State agencies in Texas are pretty much told to fight EPA on virtually every directive. I’ve lost count of how many lawsuits Texas has filed against EPA to block implementation of various environmental measures.

    And yet, I fully expect that 14 months from now Jenkins will dutifully be pulling the lever for Perry … probably to protect America from the scourge of organized labor.

  • rockstar

    Presidents are rarely policy experts, that’s why we have policy experts. Bachmann was speaking hypothetically.

    • Frumplestiltskin

      No, she was speaking idiotically, it is pathetic you don’t know the difference. Is she going to “hypothetically” say we can sell the moon to the Martians to pay off our debt? Or how about “hypothetically” set up a Department of the second coming of Jeebus just to help Americans (the white ones anyway) get all ready to be raptured, after all shouldn’t the President be concerned about our souls as well?

  • midwest guy

    “it’s clear she had no clue about the environmental or political consequences of what she was proposing.”

    Correct statement, but sorely limited in scope—A more correct version would be:
    “it’s clear she has no clue about any aspect of the policy she is proposing.”

  • djenkins

    Balconesfault, you seriously think I could be a Perry guy? Who do you think I was referring to in the “and Bachman is not alone” part of the sentence below?

    “…it should be terrifying to think that any reasonably serious candidate for president—and Bachmann is not alone—can be so ill-informed about energy and so oblivious to our basic stewardship obligations.”

    Stay tuned, more about Perry will come soon :-)

    • balconesfault

      Ahh – but the question is not whether, when your state primary rolls around, you’ll be pulling the lever for Huntsman or Perry or Bachmann.

      It’s the likely scenario that next November, your ballot choices will not include Huntsman (no way he runs an indepenent campaign and damages his 2016 chances) … and very likely not include Romney (and over the next 9 months Romney is going to start sounding like Bachmann’s quotes above with respect to the EPA).

      The question will be, when faced with two Presidential candidates, one who believes in the need for a strong, professional, well-funded EPA – and one who wants to dissolve the CAA, the CWA, RCRA, NEPA, etc and return all environmental regulatory development to the states … which one do you choose?

      • rbottoms

        But, but they can’t really mean that, it has to just be posturing for the Confederate wing of the party.

        Right?

      • djenkins

        Balconesfaul, you are overlooking the obvious solution to being presented with two bad candidates…it is called “write in.”

        I find it rather amazing that after reading my posts here for the past couple years that you somehow seemed convinced that my passion for responsible stewardship ends somewhere prior to entering the voting booth…and all just because I am a Republcan.

        Your sterotyping represents the same kind of knee-jerk, hyper-partisan reaction that I am fighting within the GOP ranks. We are all Americans and we need to find ways to see beyond the labels.

  • Biped

    She also said that she wouldn’t rule out changing (reducing) the minimum wage (a measly 7.25 hr.) to attract corporations to the US. The irony is that some of the very people from whose children’s mouths she is willing to snatch food will vote for her on account of her supposed ‘Christian’ values.

  • Graychin

    Bachmann is no longer a factor.

    Rick Perry has out-crazied her. He’s the ideal 2011 Repubican.

  • djenkins

    Balconesfaul, you are overlooking the obvious solution to being presented with two bad candidates…it is called “write in.”

    I find it rather amazing that after reading my posts here for the past couple years that you somehow seemed convinced that my passion for responsible stewardship ends somewhere prior to entering the voting booth…and all just because I am a Republcan.

    Your sterotyping represents the same kind of knee-jerk, hyper-partisan reaction that I am fighting within the GOP ranks. We are all Americans and we need to find ways to see beyond the labels.

    • myson

      With respect, No one believes you Republicans wont vote enmass for even Bachmanns if she was nominated as your candidate !! All her many faults would be forgiven & explained aways once she or Guvor goodhair becomes the candidate, that why I, Balconesfault & rbottom etc dont believe you or fellow pundits alike

      • djenkins

        Feel free to live in your own alternate reality…just like Bachmann…but in doing so you become part of the problem, not the solution.