The final 2011 budget, that squeaked through just an hour before a federal shutdown, did NOT include provisions blocking the EPA from limiting harmful carbon pollution under the Clean Air Act.
It allows loan guarantees for clean energy projects to proceed if they submitted applications to the Department of Energy by Feb. 24.
Congressional negotiators reached a budget compromise on April 8, and the House is set to vote on the legislation on April 14.
Unfortunately, the agreement includes major cuts to environmental programs, even though Democrats stood strong against 18 environmental riders.
But for the first time, politics rather than science removed a species from the Endangered Species List – as part of the budget debate! Representatives from Idaho and Montana wanted protection for the 1500 wolves there to end – and they got it.
The Northern Rockies gray wolf is now removed from the endangered species list in Montana and Idaho, at the stroke of a pen from Congress.
Rep. Mike Simpson (R- ID) and Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) inserted the stealth attack on wolves, leaving them at the mercy of states that plan to kill hundreds of them.
It is a shameful day for this nation when both parties unite behind the slaughter of an endangered species — without public hearing or debate.
Many of nation’s leading economists caution that the spending cuts, along with those on the state level across the country, could cripple the economy, still in a weakened state in the aftermath of the Bush crash.
The spending cuts are way too small to impact the deficit, but they could well have a negative impact the economy recovery.
The $40 billion deal is the largest non-defense spending cut in our nation’s history.
"The fighting over spending cuts is largely driven by newly elected Republican freshmen House members, many of whom ally with the Tea Party movement," says Adele Stan on Alternet. 62 of those House members received campaign donations from the Koch brothers. The Koch brothers have made the neutering of the EPA one of their top priorities; Koch Industries core businesses are rooted in the oil and gas sector.
Another top priority for the Kochs is shrinking of government in general, and the federal workforce in particular, she says. A smaller government means weak enforcement of government regulations, while a smaller federal workforce weakens public sector unions, the largest donor base for Democrats.
The solutions to our budget problems are simple, says Thom Hartmann. If the US rolled back the Reagon and Bush tax cuts, and returned to Clinton levels where the wealthiest Americans paid an extra 3% – three measly percentage points – we’d take a huge chunk out of our deficit, just like that."
Not a single Republican voted for the Clinton budget, which gave the US a balanced budget and a surplus.
Hartmann says: With a budget surplus, we wouldn’t be fighting over help for the poor and middle class – we’d be paying down our debt and using the extra cash to do things we haven’t been able to afford since Reagan started "starving the beast."
We’d build new roads and bridges – new schools – build new science programs like NASA from scratch – renovate our national energy grid – invest in clean energy like Denmark did where 19% of their energy now comes from windmills – or like Germany did by putting solar panels on people’s roofs – and now after 10 years solar power is generating more electricity in Germany – the second cloudiest country in Europe behind the UK – making more power than 8 nuclear power plants. This is what America could be doing today – putting people to work – rebuilding the middle-class – and reclaiming the top spot in the world economy.
We need to change the debate in America today.