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Posts Tagged ‘Republicans’

In Beijing and Washington, A Breath of Foul Air

Posted by Richard Conniff on January 21, 2017

Airport ad for a way to breathe in Beijing. (Photo: Richard Conniff)

Airport ad for a way to breathe in Beijing. (Photo: Richard Conniff)

by Richard Conniff/The New York Times

When friends cautioned me about Beijing’s notorious air pollution recently, ahead of my first visit there, I brushed it off. It was an old story, and having grown up in northern New Jersey in the era of unregulated industrial air pollution and open garbage burning on the Meadowlands, I figured I could handle it. But I began to have second thoughts on the flight in from the north, when we crossed a mountain ridge and the clear air turned instantly to dense smog. It was still 20 minutes to touchdown.

After a day or two in the city, I felt as if I had taken up cigarettes. Same burned-out feeling at the back of the throat, with bits of airborne grit catching on the epiglottis. Same clearing of the throat by soft coughing. It got worse over the weekend, when regulations limiting cars on the road don’t apply. Coming back into the city on a Sunday afternoon was like a slow apocalypse. The air was a filthy brownish gray, and pedestrians, many of them wearing white face masks, walked hunched over as if through a rainstorm. Buildings emerged ghostlike from the haze a half-mile ahead and vanished again behind.

But I was a novice. It turned out that this was a relatively normal winter day for Beijing, with the air quality index at just 269. That’s rated “very unhealthy” by the World Health Organization, and many times worse than the maximum safe exposure level, but nowhere near those headline-making, sky-darkening days when the Beijing index has topped 700.

Back in New Jersey, the air quality index was generally under 50, and it reminded me how lucky we are to have relatively strong laws and regulations to protect our air. These are the same protections that President Donald J. Trump loudly promised during his campaign to undo on his first day in office. Indeed, the new Republican-dominated House of Representatives this month passed a Regulatory Accountability Act, which will give the new president power to roll back an array of governmental regulations, including 50 years of environmental protections — with as little public notice as possible. It could undermine even the Clean Air Act of 1972 and for the first time oblige regulators to put corporate profits ahead of public health.

The disingenuous logic of this attack

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Republicans To Speak Out For Climate Change Action

Posted by Richard Conniff on June 17, 2014

Well, I don’t normally print press releases verbatim, but I just wrote on the role of Republicans in the fight to solve the acid problem.  That was back when the Republican Party still believed in the value of good government and the importance of saving the, you know, Earth.  Now some of the people from that successful campaign are about to speak out on climate change.  Check it out tomorrow morning at 10:

There are strong voices in the Republican Party that believe it is important to take action on climate change. Tomorrow, four Republican EPA Administrators will testify before a Senate Environment & Public Works sub-committee on Wednesday, June 18 at 10:00am ET. They will speak about the consensus around climate change, policy and regulatory solutions, and the urgency to act as U.S. communities face increasingly severe climate-related impacts.

The testimony will be webcast live here: http://www.epw.senate.gov. The official announcement is pasted below.

In addition to their roles as former EPA Administrators,

 

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A Great Idea from when the GOP Still Believed in Solutions

Posted by Richard Conniff on June 3, 2014

The “cap-and-trade”  idea is back in the news.  Here’s my article from the August 2009 issue of Smithsonian reminding everyone that this was originally a Republican innovation:

John B. Henry was hiking in Maine’s Acadia National Park one August in the 1980s when he first heard his friend C. Boyden Gray talk about cleaning up the environment by letting people buy and sell the right to pollute. Gray, a tall, lanky heir to a tobacco fortune, was then working as a lawyer in the Reagan White House, where environmental ideas were only slightly more popular than godless Communism. “I thought he was smoking dope,” recalls Henry, a Washington, D.C. entrepreneur. But if the system Gray had in mind now looks like a politically acceptable way to slow climate change—an approach being hotly debated in Congress—you could say that it got its start on the global stage on that hike up Acadia’s Cadillac Mountain.

People now call that system “cap-and-trade.” But back then the term of art was “emissions trading,” though some people called it “morally bankrupt” or even “a license to kill.” For a strange alliance of Read the rest of this entry »

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