Republicans have regularly called rigorous environmental protection laws anti-business and anti-growth, and they appear to be taking advantage of their greater numbers in the House of Representatives to try to roll them back, mostly by defunding them.
House GOP members have loaded up an appropriations bill with at least 39 different legislative riders that seek to minimize the powers of the National Parks Service, the Bureau of Land Management and the Environmental Protection Agency, The New York Times reports.
According to House Democrats, the anti-environment legislative riders include: One that would prevent the Bureau of Land Management from designating new wilderness areas for preservation; Another that waives the Clean Air Act requirements for big oil companies; And still another that allows new uranium prospecting near Grand Canyon National Park.
While there is little chance that most of the riders singled out by Democrats will pass the Democrat-controlled Senate, there is a chance that some will survive negotiations between the Senate and the House on a mutually acceptable final bill, the Times reports.
Republicans say they see "overreaching" in regulation going on at agencies like the EPA, and that that is contributing significantly to America's stagnant economy. Democrats claim the GOP is just acting on behalf of its corporate overlords, and therefore trying to roll back 40-year-old crucial protections on air, water and nature, in the name of greater profit.
Former White House energy and climate adviser Carol Browner told Politico that the GOP fight against environmental regulations is a rerun from the 1990s, when Newt Gingrich was Speaker and he led a Republican-majority House in a similar effort that was largely unsuccessful.
"You know what the American people said? They said, 'Hold on a second. We want a cop on the beat. We want clean air. We want clean water,'" Browner said.
The appropriations bill was voted out of committee with the 39 riders, and is currently under open debate on the House floor, where more riders can now be added one by one.