Standing Up to Republicans on Environmental Protection

I feel a little bad for Mike Pool, the deputy director of the Bureau of Land Management. He's [a career BLM employee](http://www.blm.gov/ca/st/en/info/newsroom/2009/february/SO0903_Pool_acti...) who worked his way up through the agency. And this month he's doing his duty by dealing with the House Natural Resources Committee and its push to open up as much federal land as possible to drilling and other energy development. Earlier in the month, he [fielded questions](http://naturalresources.house.gov/Calendar/EventSingle.aspx?EventID=245405) about speeding drilling in Alaska, and this morning [he's testifying about Interior's position](http://naturalresources.house.gov/Calendar/EventSingle.aspx?EventID=246984) on a suite of bills that would speed development of renewable projects on federal land.

[As I said before](http://prospect.org/csnc/blogs/tapped_archive?month=06&year=2011&base_na...), I'm not convinced that renewable projects need to go on public land. But Natural Resources Chairman Doc Hastings definitely is. He says with these bills, his committee is on the front lines of stopping "Obama administration policies that are raising energy prices."

Unfortunately, those policies are also known as "the foundational environmental laws of the United States." Pool's prepared testimony notes that Interior has only had a week or so to consider the legislative language of bills pushing renewable energy projects on public lands, so the department doesn't have an full analysis yet. But they know enough to know this: "The bills exempt certain Federal actions from compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) – the cornerstone law guiding environmental protection and public involvement in Federal actions. The Department opposes these three bills."

Not only do Republicans not believe in climate change, they don't believe that the environment -- or protecting it -- has any value. This isn't the only recent effort to challenge the environmental laws that keep our water, air and soil clean and that keep us healthy. It isn't even the only effort to do so [this week](http://www.nytimes.com/gwire/2011/06/22/22greenwire-house-panel-fast-tra...). We should be taking these challenges seriously, and it's nice to see that Interior is drawing a line somewhere.

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