Republicans Are For Clean Air, Too

October 20th, 2011 at 5:30 pm | 36 Comments |

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Many Republican officeholders and would-be officeholders are telegraphing to voters an either-or message: They can have more jobs or they can have cleaner air. But they can’t have both.

Rhetoric about closing down EPA and removing bureaucrats’ boots off industry’s throat, however, is more about drawing distinctions between Republicans and Democrats rather than taking reasoned positions that draw from empirical evidence.

Actually and surprisingly, not much scholarly research has been done to examine the impacts of environmental regulation on employment, according to Resources for the Future (RFF) testimony earlier this year to the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s energy and environment panel.

Nor, according to the testimony, does EPA have clear guidance on how it should analyze the employment impacts of its proposed regulations. An Office of Management and Budget circular setting out how agencies should comply with a 1993 executive order requiring cost-benefit analysis of regulations does not provide guidelines for how employment analyses should be carried out.

RFF recommends that OMB set such guidelines, “but only after soliciting and considering public comment and genuinely independent expert advice.” Well, good luck with that in the middle of a polarizing campaign season in which clean air is one more political football.

Meanwhile, GOP candidates sending an either-or message about jobs and clean air ought to consider guidelines from Republican pollster Greg Strimple, whose firm, GS Strategy Group of Boise, joined with the Democratic firm Peter Hart & Associates in a survey about clean air regulations put out last week by Ceres, which works on business sustainability issues.

According to results of the poll, which queried 1,400 voters, 62 percent of Republicans joined 85 percent of Democrats and 79 percent of independents in opposing Congress substituting its judgment for EPA’s in deciding whether stronger air pollution limits are needed.

Strimple told E&E News that Republicans ought to be careful about marginalizing themselves on air quality issues with the middle of the electorate, i.e., voters who don’t have time to march around in tri-corner hats or occupy public parks.

The payoff message, Strimple said, is that “Republicans like clean air too.”

Recent Posts by Jim DiPeso



36 Comments so far ↓

  • willard landreth

    The party of ideas has a strange way of showing its love of clean air.

    when will this party begin to act responsibly?

  • JohnMcC

    How would we know? The point here is echoed by Mr Vecchione’s lament elsewhere on the F-Forum today that he feels like the bride in an arranged marriage because none of the eight (EIGHT!!) Repub candidates suit him. Isn’t the lesson here that the modern Repub party does not actually give a d*mn about the actual convictions of — you know — Republicans? There is literally no space between the so-called-conservative “movement” and the Repubs. And other than a few RINOs, no one on the Right has voiced a meaningful complaint. Until actual historic and traditional Republicans stand up against the jerks who have commandeered their party they are getting precisely what they deserve.

    • Elvis Elvisberg

      Isn’t the lesson here that the modern Repub party does not actually give a d*mn about the actual convictions of — you know — Republicans?

      The one unshakable conviction of Republicans is that they don’t like liberals. Everything else is secondary. They were happy to support the Bush administration’s aggressive defense & expansion of federal & executive power, but now claim to think that federal policy is socialism. (Not an exaggeration– that’s what then-frontrunner Rick Perry said: http://swampland.time.com/2011/09/15/rick-perry-exclusive-the-gops-fiery-front-runner-on-his-rise-record-and-rhetoric/ ). Republicans flocked to the polls in 2004 to vote for Dick “Deficits Don’t Matter” Cheney, but now claim that the deficit is the most importantest dangerous threat we’ve ever faced.

      Sure, in theory, Republicans like clean air. They’re not going to tell a pollster otherwise.

      But Republicans’ hatred of the Other is always, always more powerful than any substantive commitment to any principle or goal whatsoever.

      Because the president is a Democrat, the GOP is back to arguing that federal policy is tyranny, rather like they did in the 1990s. Once there’s a Republican in office again, they’re cheer as loudly as they can as he pounds Medicare Part E down Congress’s throat, invades a country or two that raise his ire, asserts the president’s prerogative to torture US citizens accused of crimes, and does anything else that strikes his fancy.

    • JohnMcC

      Well, Mr Elvisberg, I think we are much in agreement. It’s just that I was brought up in a strongly Republican family. Actually, back when dinosaurs roamed the earth, I was an activist College Republican. I subscribed to the National Review when Bill Buckley was Editor and William (never ‘Bill’) Rusher was publisher. I had letters to the editor printed in there. I have a lot of respect for authentic Republicans and authentic Conservatives. To this day I have a soft spot in my heart for Russell Kirk and James Burnham. Wonderful conservative thinkers and writers.

      Of course as St Paul said, ‘when I became a man I put away childish things’. As you know from my little comments here I’m quite a lefty. Reality had, for me, a strong liberal bias.

      But what burns me up about the modern so-called-conservative ‘movement’ is that it is a radical, ahistorical cult that has taken control of a venerable American institution that I would prefer to respect but cannot. And I bet that the large numbers of our fellow citizens who tell pollsters that they are “Republicans” are unaware of the radicalism that is being perpetrated in their names. I bet my Dad, for one, would never consider himself a TeaPartier. He was a life-long Republican and today would be a RINO.

      Just burns me up!

      • Elvis Elvisberg

        Well, I’m genuinely sorry for you, JohnMcC. It’s really no fun to devote time, effort, and loyalty to an organization, then feel like it’s slipping away from you. I always think of this John Cole post (he’s since left the GOP and become a Democrat). Like you, he’d been a Republican since before college: http://www.balloon-juice.com/?p=7551

        It seems to me that it’s folks like you, John Cole, and Bruce Bartlett– folks who spent a lot of time in the GOP– who have the most cutting things to say about today’s version of the Republican Party. Shortly after Obama’s inauguration, Cole wrote, “I really don’t understand how bipartisanship is ever going to work when one of the parties is insane. Imagine trying to negotiate an agreement on dinner plans with your date, and you suggest Italian and she states her preference would be a meal of tire rims and anthrax. If you can figure out a way to split the difference there and find a meal you will both enjoy, you can probably figure out how bipartisanship is going to work the next few years.”

        Bartlett told The Economist that we’re facing gridlock between “between the sensible but cowardly party and the greedy, sociopathic party”, a GOP whose goal is to “reward their lobbyist friends with more give-aways from the public purse.”

        It would be great if we were in an environment where you and I were disagreeing– or heck, maybe agreeing, as I buy into all the GOP boilerplate about the awesomeness of entrepreneurship, America, capitalism, etc.

        But alas, as things stand now, anyone with any commitment whatsoever to empiricism cannot be a Republican.

        Thankfully, the Dems are a moderate, centrist, big tent party, so it’s not hard to be a Democrat at the moment. I shudder to think where we’d be if the Dems were a quarter as insane as the GOP.

  • baw1064

    The last line of the column makes a catchy slogan. But it doesn’t reflect the rest of it. Maybe Republicans should like clean air, and maybe they would appeal to a broader range of the electorate if they did…

    But “many Republican officeholders and would-be officeholders are telegraphing to voters an either-or message: They can have more jobs or they can have cleaner air. But they can’t have both.”

  • MSheridan

    I was tempted to make a zombie/robot joke vis-a-vis the radical GOP base and the living’s need for clean air, but joking aside–what conceivable justification is there for allowing other people to freely poison the air we all breathe or the water we all use?

    • baw1064

      Well, Obama evidently likes clean air, which forces Republicans into doing one of two things, since they must by definition oppose whatever he is for. Either they must shout “you lie!” when he says he likes clean air, which wouldn’t be very credible. Or they must oppose clean air, and spin it that they do so in the name of jobs.

    • Levedi

      Precisely. As a life long Republican with asthma who lives in the LA basin, I can testify to the importance of clean air.

    • Steve D

      Nobody is proposing allowing others to freely poison the air and water. This is the liberal false dichotomy: you can have clean air or less bureaucracy, but not both. The question is whether the proposed regulations actually have done or will do any good. After all, air and water quality began improving before many of the regulations were in place, mostly as a result of improvements in technology. Sending fuel up the chimney unburned isn’t just unhealthy, it’s bad economics.

      I would suggest that we have a policy that new regulations must demonstrate convincingly thet they will (not might) solve a real (not potential) problem and state a criterion for deciding whether or not the regulation has actually succeeded. If the regulation doesn’t satisfy its own criterion, it sunsets. That’s the scientific method, right? You test hypotheses and scrap the ones that don’t work?

      • balconesfault

        Nobody is proposing allowing others to freely poison the air and water. … The question is whether the proposed regulations actually have done or will do any good. After all, air and water quality began improving before many of the regulations were in place, mostly as a result of improvements in technology.

        So it sounds like you ARE arguing for scrapping the regulatory system … which essentially does allow polluters to freely poison the air and water to the extent they can get away with it under our tort system (and trust me – deciphering whose tetra-ethyl-death emissions or dicharges cause a cancer cluster can take decades to figure out).

        So where are you? Do you really believe that regulations have never done any good, and that all reductions of pollutant discharges have resulted from the spontaneous desire of industry to utilize new (often very costly to install and operate) technologies? I can’t figure it out from your introductory salvo.

        Sending fuel up the chimney unburned isn’t just unhealthy, it’s bad economics.

        Not always. Depending on the price of fuel, and the cost of maintaining and operating your combustion equipment, often allowing some percentage of your fuel to escape up the chimney is good economics. In fact, I can also point you to a lot of EPA code that has to do with regulating the fugitive emissions of PRODUCT that major petrochemical companies allow to escape from their processes. That’s not just fuel – that’s often the precursors to their final salable commodity, or the commodity itself, that industry was willfully allowing to escape because operating controls properly was too expensive. You just have to go back a couple decades to see gasoline storage tanks that didn’t have floating roofs, allowing massive amounts of product to disappear into the air. Why? Because there was significant capital costs incurred by installing and maintaining these floating roofs.

      • Traveler

        After all, air and water quality began improving before many of the regulations were in place, mostly as a result of improvements in technology.

        WTF????? What planet did you grow up in? The CWA came first, then the Cuyahuga was cleaned up. Same with air pollution in the LA basin once CAFE and catalytic converters came on line. You think everyone paid the thousands of dollars these innovations required because they weren’t required to by those dreaded regulations?

        When you post such obvious mendacity, it just takes the rug out from under the quite rational thought you were trying to present. Talk about a conservative false dichotomy.

        But to get to your bottom line, most regulations have been arrived at by means of lots of testing of what is going on, and what needs to be done to fix it. That happens to be my profession, so I am somewhat familiar with it. Its called the scientific method, and its used already.

        However , I mostly agree with you in certain cases. There are plenty of really stupid regulations that could be reworked. Sometimes you have the bunny coddlers fighting with the tree huggers who are fighting with bambi lovers. That we can do without. I have posted on this before. Finding out whether certain regulations really work is a good idea.

  • Oldskool

    You can add that we can’t have jobs if taxes are raised, that taxes don’t bring in revenue, that anything should ever be regulated, etc. There’s a long list of misinformation that Republicans have fed us. Good luck undoing it all.

  • rbottoms

    [blockquote]
    Rhetoric about closing down EPA and removing bureaucrats’ boots off industry’s throat, however, is more about drawing distinctions between Republicans and Democrats rather than taking reasoned positions that draw from empirical evidence.[/blockquote]

    Uh, no. It’s a batsh*t crazy expression of how the core of the GOP feels.

    You can’t have it both ways. Either Republicans mean all the crazy sh*t their leaders say to keep the teabaggers happy or they don’t.

    If Romney thought saying eliminating the EPA would gain him more Republican votes than he would lose of Independents you can damn sure bet he’d be saying it out loud instead of hinting around the margins about job killing regulations.

    The GOP is a cult and Frum and the others are trying de-program enough of the zombie flock to keep Independents from running away shreiking.

    • Steve D

      “You can’t have it both ways. Either Republicans mean all the crazy sh*t their leaders say to keep the teabaggers happy or they don’t.”

      Why not? Half the posts here argue you can have regulations and jobs, or taxes and jobs. This is just as much a false dichotomy as arguing that you can have jobs or clean air, but not both.

      “If Romney thought saying eliminating the EPA would gain him more Republican votes than he would lose of Independents you can damn sure bet he’d be saying it out loud instead of hinting around the margins about job killing regulations.”

      And likewise, if Obama thought he could gain more votes from the far left than he’d lose from independents, he’d placate that pressure group. What’s the big leftist complaint about Obama? He’s too centrist. I never in my wildest nightmares thought I’d see “centrist” as a pejorative term.

      And that’s why Frum and I haven’t gone over to the big centrist Democratic tent. Because it could pull up stakes and move left as soon as it’s expedient. For my money, our single greatest need is a judicial system that decides issues on facts rather than procedure. I may not get that from Republicans, but I sure as h*** won’t from Democrats. So while it may be useful to vote for the occasional Democrat to keep a Tea Bag nut job out of office, in the long run I’m just as concerned about leftist nut jobs. And yes, releasing a demonstrably guilty criminal because of some procedural issue is the act of a lunatic.

      The big problem with the Tea Party is it has a lot of social issues it refuses to back down on, and it’s linked up with folks who have economic demands they won’t back down on, and there’s nothing for liberals to offer them to negotiate with. They’re attacking liberal gains on every front.

      • balconesfault

        For my money, our single greatest need is a judicial system that decides issues on facts rather than procedure.

        I think the term you mean is “process” … and without due process the law protects noone but the well-connected.

  • balconesfault

    Republicans might be in favor of clean air … but if GOP politicians are any indication, it’s so far down on the priorities of GOP primary voters that you might as well be asking them whether they like chocolate ice cream.

    My own contention is that the GOP voters are, by and large, irrational. They believe in personal freedom, but then support government laws against abortion. They believe in balanced budgets, then speak approvingly of Bush cutting taxes and more than doubling defense spending over his time in office. They talk about eliminating the debt, then support politicians who talk about “giving back the budget surpluses to those who generated them”.

    And sure … they think the EPA should decide whether stronger air pollution limits are needed … at the same time they cheer anytime someone talks about eliminating most Federal Regulations.

    I’ve come to believe that issue polling on GOP voters is pointless. They really don’t vote on issues … they vote on who makes the best pitch to their brain stem, rather than their neocortex.

  • Saladdin

    All evidence to the contrary

  • Graychin

    Republicans favor clean air, if and only if it doesn’t cost any money.

    If it costs money, clean air is something we can’t afford. Neither can industry. Clean air regulations are part of what Republicans want to repeal, under the guise of “job creation.”

    We can be sure that this kind of job creation, if it works at all, won’t create any jobs until after the election. Which is the principal objective.

  • ktward

    So, forget the GOP’s shameful congressional voting record on environmental issues, forget their rigorous campaigning on defunding the EPA, stripping it of any teeth or trashing it altogether. Forget all of that … for a poll.

    I feel better already.

    It seems to me that you’re doing a great disservice to the environment, Mr. Dipeso, in attempting to convince us that voting for any Republican won’t really turn out as horrible as we fear because, after all, you’ve got a poll and a bumper sticker slogan.

  • Rick123

    This article was just the laugh I needed after a long day.

  • Scritor

    “Republicans Are For Clean Air, Too”

    –But not really.

  • Carlos Machina

    For the radical Republicans currently in ascendance, exploitation without consideration of consequences is an article of faith, literally. It’s biblical. God gave us the earth and everything on it to exploit for our own purposes. Plus, it’s everlasting until God decides it’s time to pull the plug. Furthermore, they’ll just fly from the fresh-scrubbed air of their penthouses to the pristine air of their island getaways whenever necessary.

    The poor shlubs who have to labor and live in foul conditions, well, it’s their faults. If they had applied themselves to the lessons their private tutors offered, or worked hard in Daddy’s finance company during the summers, they wouldn’t be in such a position.

    God helps those whose ancestors he helped. It’s in the bible.

  • valkayec

    …is more about drawing distinctions between Republicans and Democrats rather than taking reasoned positions that draw from empirical evidence.

    In reality, the distinctions which the GOP is actually showing is that they are being irresponsible and reckless; that they don’t care about life and health; and that only corporate profits are important and not people. Are those really the kinds of distinctions Republicans want to show – or the conclusions they wants the voters to draw? How will taking anti-clean air and anti-clean water and anti-climate change stances encourage voters to take the GOP seriously?

    BTW, today Ezra Klien’s WaPo blog, Wonkblog, posted a blog about climate change. Richard Muller, a Berkeley physicist and climate change skeptic, decided in 2010 to review and analyze all the data on climate change. He fully expected his results to refute climate change. Instead he discovered that the reports ad data were accurate. The climate is warming.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/ezra-klein/post/a-skeptical-physicist-ends-up-confirming-climate-data/2011/10/20/gIQA6viC1L_blog.html

  • bamboozer

    Hard to believe or just total BS? Older, more moderate Republicans were for clean air and some even could be considered environmentalists. But todays GOP never met a regulation they didn’t want to abolish and many are coming out in support of getting rid of the EPA. I think the answer is Total BS.

  • hisgirlfriday

    20 posts and not one pointing out that REPUBLICAN Richard Nixon created the EPA and signed the National Environmental Policy Act and Clean Air Act (and that REPUBLICAN George H.W. Bush signed the significant Clean Air Act amendments)?

    Obviously the Republican Party cared about the environment until it got obsessed with demeaning and undermining Al Gore and its environmental platform got hijacked by campaign donors like the Koch Brothers.

    BTW, why didn’t this post disclose the author is or was the policy director of something called Republicans for Environmental Protection? I don’t mean to pick on the author of this but it’s just that your name and title popped up on my first google hit for “republican presidents environment” after I read this post. Frankly it’s wonderful to learn that such a group exists and disclosing your background at the end of the piece could have promoted it.

    • ktward

      Actually, there are (at least) two REP commentators–Dipeso and another dude whose name escapes me at the moment–who have posted here at FF for quite some time. REP is no secret to most of us old-timers, and newcomers need only click on the author’s name to learn of their association.

      As to Nixon and the creation of the EPA and the GOP’s past glories as responsible stewards of the environment … I imagine that just about everyone here is aware of it. God knows Dipeso has written about it enough and commenters have mentioned it enough. Moving on.

      • balconesfault

        In fact, clicking on DiPeso’s link, and scrolling through a few pages of his articles, you’ll find

        http://www.frumforum.com/when-did-epa-turn-into-a-four-letter-word

        which makes a bunch of the exact same points Ms. Friday was bringing up.

        Unfortunately, DiPeso and David Jenkins (the other commentor you were thinking of) aren’t only speaking out about the wilderness … as far as the GOP is concerned they’re shouting from it.

        • ktward

          Jenkins! Yes. Thanks for the joggle to my pathetic memory. (I could have looked it up, but I’m selectively lazy.)

          Your last note is precisely why I continue to find it impossible not to take DiPeso & Jenkins (and by extension, REP) to task for their continued inexplicable support of the GOP at large. This piece in particular — “it’s okay to vote GOP cuz we gots us a poll and a bumper sticker ready to go to press!” — infuriates me.

          Despite everything I’ve read from these dudes here at FF, I’ve remained hopeful that at some point I’ll come away with the impression that REP does, in fact, value environment over bloody partisan loyalty.

          Sigh.

        • balconesfault

          For what it’s worth … I grew up in a Republican family, my father was career army. Worked for Nixon in 1972, and Ford in 1976. Admittedly I supported Anderson in 1980, in large part because I agreed with his proposal for a $1 gasoline tax. Reagan’s environmental policies were instrumental in pushing me right out of the party … and once I left I began to become sympathetic to a lot of liberal positions I’d previously shut myself off from. And frankly, the increasingly strident anti-regulatory, anti-environmentalist (yes – let’s face it – in many GOP circles labeling onself an environmentalist will subject you to as much ridicule as were you to go in calling yourself a Marxist), has made me wonder why anyone who prioritizes the environment can manage to pull the (R) lever in any national election.

  • jdd_stl1

    Romney is for clean air:

    http://thinkprogress.org/romm/2011/05/20/208149/romney-coal-jobs-kill-people/

    “I will not create jobs or hold jobs that kill people.”

    Oh wait. That was the Romney version 2003. We are up to Romney version 2011.

    • jamesj

      Where the Romney dial will land next time, no one knows. It seems to be heavily influenced by campaign donations and extremist voters at the moment.

  • jamesj

    “Republicans Are For Clean Air, Too”

    It seems to be very low on the list of priorities for most Republican politicians. Other priorities seem to get in the way at pretty much every opportunity.

  • ktward

    @balconesfault

    I have a similar Republican background. In fact, my grandparents were personal friends as well as active supporters of Reagan, whom I willingly pulled the lever for twice thinking I was well-informed. I was young, what can I say.

    Reagan pushed me out of the GOP as well, as much for his embrace of the Religious Right–which scared the holy crap out of me having been raised among them–as for his poor stewardship of the environment.

    Honestly though, I’ve never re-registered as Dem. I used to have my issues with them as well, not so much anymore. Along came Clinton and the Dem Party today is really Eisenhower Republicanism. I’m mostly down with that.

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