America Needs Radical Plans to Save the Environment, Not Supreme Court Secret Sellouts
While Brazil’s Supreme Court is now pursuing what’s called a “Green Docket,” here in the US the GOP is supporting a “Shadow Docket” to gut environmental laws that date back to 1972
Brazil, no environmental hero, is beginning to discuss how to save the rainforest; here in America, SCOTUS is speeding up the poisoning of our environment. When is our media going to figure out that the real threat to our country is not teaching history or acknowledging trans kids?
Brazil’s former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has proposed what was once considered a radical solution to slow the destruction of the Amazon rainforest, get global warming under control, and make Brazilians healthier: eat less beef.
Seriously, he tweeted that, “I'm not just talking about people going back to eating barbecue, but also vegetarian people, who don't eat meat, being able to eat a good organic salad, encouraging healthier agriculture in our country.”
Meanwhile, here in the United States the five reactionary Republican appointees on the Supreme Court just restored a Trump-era “rule” that allowed corporations to increase their profits by dumping larger amounts of poison that will reach our children through industrial pollution of our lakes and rivers.
The issue has even been litigated once before in front of the Supreme Court: in 1994, the Court ruled that the EPA has the authority to prevent mining and drilling operations from pouring toxic pollutants into waterways that, among other things, serve the water supplies of downstream towns and cities. The Court also ruled in that case that the EPA could support state regulations that serve the same purpose.
But things changed considerably when Trump came into office and, for the first time in American history, put a coal and chemical industry lobbyist in charge of the EPA.
As NBC News noted when the new “Trump Rule” was first rolled out in September, 2020:
“The latest rule change covers requirements for cleaning coal ash and toxic heavy metals such as mercury, arsenic and selenium from plant wastewater before it is dumped into waterways.
“Utilities are expected to save $140 million annually under the changes, which Environmental Protection Agency Administrator [and former coal and chemical industry lobbyist] Andrew Wheeler said in a statement would protect industry jobs…”
In undoing environmental law that had held for more than 50 years, the so-called Trump Rule created chaos across the country. Polluters lurched ahead with profitably poisoning the water we and our kids drink while, for example, a fishery almost entirely collapsed in Washington State.
The Texas (for G-d’s sake) Commission on Environmental Quality experienced “the breakdown of a long-standing, formally established and cooperative process” with the Army Corps of Engineers because of the uncertainties caused by the Trump Rule conflicting with over 50 years of precedent, so, in that state, “Permitting ground to a halt, causing widespread disruptions.”
But the five extremists on the Supreme Court, including Barrett (whose father spent decades as an oil industry lawyer) and Gorsuch (whose mother tried to destroy the EPA when Reagan handed it to her in the 1980s, then was forced to resign in disgrace), were so gung-ho to turn our nation’s waterways over to the fossil fuel industry that they didn’t even bother with hearing arguments.
Instead, they rolled out the “Shadow Docket” and apparently concluded in secret that, yes, profits trump people, and are more important than even the children who will be neurologically damaged by mercury and selenium or get cancer from arsenic.
It was such an egregious abuse of judicial power that Chief Justice John Roberts, himself an old corporate lawyer and onetime employee of Ronald Reagan, joined Kagan’s dissent that “the Court goes astray.”
The truly astonishing part of the entire sordid affair is that most Americans know nothing about it.
The pollution beat just isn’t sexy enough to merit attention from our media, particularly TV.
Think how different our political debates might be today if most Americans knew that just during the 19 months Trump’s toady and coal lobbyist Andrew Wheeler ran the EPA, as the Virginia Conservation Network found, he:
“Replaced the Clean Power Plan, President Obama’s signature plan to reduce fossil fuel emissions, with a weaker rule that underestimated public health impacts and would likely increase air pollution;
“Gutted core protections of the Clean Water Act by redefining which waterways were protected under federal law, eliminating protection for 18% of streams and 51% of freshwater wetlands nationwide.
“Rolled back the Mercury and Air Toxics standards, despite scientists’ warnings that mercury harms children’s health and bi-partisan support in Congress;
“Eliminated the EPA’s Office of the Science Advisor position, which gave scientific counsel on health and environmental standards to the EPA;
“Weakened requirements and extended cleanup deadlines for coal ash ponds in favor of industry, despite the human health risk of cancer, neurological disease, and cardiovascular disease linked to leaking coal ponds contaminating communities’ drinking water;
“Ruled the amount of dangerous contaminants, PFAS (poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances), allowed in our water to be at a level 7–10x higher than the level deemed safe by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry;
“Delayed a formaldehyde report, which concluded that the chemical causes leukemia, nose cancer, and throat cancer, in favor of industry interest;
“Weakened methane rules meant to curb waste and prevent hundreds of thousands of tons of greenhouse gas from leaking into the atmosphere;
“Disbanded the 20- person Particle Matter Review Panel, a group tasked with determining what levels of air pollutants are safe to breathe;
“Silenced climate science on the agency website, which scrubbed all references of human-caused climate change.
“Sought to slash the Chesapeake Bay Program’s budget by 90%, gutting federal support for the Bay Cleanup effort.”
(When Virginia flipped Red in the last election, choosing Republican Glenn Youngkin as their governor, he hired Wheeler and put him in charge of that state’s Department of Natural Resources.)
Brazil’s politicians are discussing dialing back their destruction of the environment that was done by the Bolsonaro administration simply to increase profits of campaign contributors among the developers, drillers, miners, and cattle ranchers.
Brazil’s Supreme Court has characterized Bolsonaro’s rollback of environmental protections as analogous to “termites” hollowing out protections for children, the rainforest, and the country as a whole.
While Brazil’s Supreme Court is now pursuing what’s called a “Green Docket,” here in the US a coalition of fossil fuel groups and politicians they’ve paid off are using the Republican’s McConnell-packed courts and SCOTUS’ “Shadow Docket” to gut environmental laws that date back to 1972.
As Rachel Maddow recently exposed, Republicans funded by the fossil fuel industry are committed to using Qanon’s 2022 version of the old antisemitic “blood libel” against Democratic politicians and appointees, accusing them of wanting to abuse our nation’s children much like Hitler said of the Jews in the 1930s.
And it’s not like Democratic politicians haven’t been talking about these harms: they’ve been shouting about them for decades, particularly during the past five years.
Our media needs to wake the hell up and tell America who’s really dedicated to destroying our young people’s lives, and, psychopathically, doing it all for profit.
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