Living on borrowed time with GOP’s environmental policies

Republican disregard for our environment has left me and my constituents outraged. Let me count the ways.

First, Republicans are gutting the Land and Water Conservation Fund in the Interior and Environment Appropriations bill. LWCF has done more than any other program to expand the systems of local parks, recreational green spaces and public lands enjoyed by hundreds of millions of Americans. Republicans want to cut LWCF funding to its lowest level in 40 years. This amount is insufficient to cover the needs in my state of California alone.

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The bill includes so many harmful legislative provisions that will endanger human health and the environment that it is hard to keep track of them all. The bill undermines the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to reduce air pollution under the Clean Air Act. It attacks EPA’s authority to limit carbon pollution from stationary sources as required under the Clean Air Act and the Supreme Court. It undermines clean water protections, undermines standards on toxic coal-ash disposal, pushes aside Clean Air Act permitting processes for drilling off of Alaska’s coast, and blocks the listing of endangered species. It would even allow uranium mining near the Grand Canyon, one of our national treasures. This would generate toxic waste that could contaminate the Colorado River, upon which millions of my fellow Californians depend for drinking water.

Second, Republicans are proposing crippling cuts to energy efficiency and the development of renewable energy sources. Republican cuts will only serve to make our nation more dependent on the coal, oil and gas interests that own the Republican Party and more dependent on importing our energy from insecure foreign sources.

Investment in clean energy is much more cost-effective than continued giveaways to the oil-and-gas industry — the Commerce Department has found that clean energy generates 17 jobs for every $1 million spent on it, compared to just 5 jobs for every $1 million we throw at an oil-and-gas industry that doesn’t need subsidies but continues to fight for subsidies and tax breaks.

I hear every day from the companies in and around my Silicon Valley district about how renewable energy sources like solar, wind, fuel cells and hydrokinetic are the wave of the future. These fields are where the jobs are — Wired magazine asked the professional networking service LinkedIn to survey its members who have switched industries in the last five years, and what it found was that growth in renewables and the environment was 56.8 percent, far more than any other.

Third, Republicans brought the appalling Better Use of Light Bulbs (BULB) Act to the House floor for a vote and, after losing under the rules that they set, put a version of it into the Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill. The BULB Act is based on inaccurate and downright false claims. The lighting-efficiency standards enacted by Congress in 2007 do not ban incandescent light bulbs, they simply make those bulbs 25 to 30 percent more efficient and help incentivize the development of even more efficient lighting using alternative technologies, such as compact fluorescent lighting or light emitting diodes, here in the U.S.

The standard is good for the environment, too — it will save the amount of electricity generated by more than 30 large power plants and prevent the emission of global-warming pollution equivalent to the amount released by 14 million cars and light trucks each year. Instead, Republicans want to institute an energy tax on consumers by repealing the lighting-efficiency standard, which would cost the typical consumer around $100 per year in additional energy costs.

As a Native American proverb notes, “We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.” In sum, we must do better.

We need to aggressively pursue clean energy and a clean environment while we still have control of the game, before it is too late and our climate has changed forever. We are running out of oil, and we are running out of time. I oppose these efforts because they fail our nation.

Honda is a member of the House Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition.