REPUBLICANS vs. THE ENVIRONMENT….Pete McCloskey was a Republican congressman back in the era before Newt Gingrich and Tom DeLay decided to declare war on the environment at the behest of their corporate masters. He’s not happy about where they’ve taken his party:

When I served in Congress, conservatives and conservationists worked together in friendship. Something dark and onerous has happened since the Republicans took over the House. It’s time for Republicans to stand up and try to keep the party true to its historical concept that life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness include the preservation of endangered species.

If we stand back and allow Democrats to be identified as the sole preservers of environmental values, the GOP could soon return to the minority status it occupied for most of the last 70 years. And that, however unfortunate for the party, would be a good thing for eagles, turkeys, ducks and rainbow trout.

The current incarnation of the Republican Party seems to take the position that because the environment is getting better ? thanks to a bunch of environmental legislation passed in the early 70s ? we shouldn’t worry about the environment anymore. Why, corporate America is so altruistic these days that we could probably repeal the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act entirely and big business would voluntarily continue to reduce emissions just because they’re so anxious to be good neighbors.

It’s a pretty stunning display of chutzpah, in many cases going so far that they claim it’s really market forces that have cleaned up the environment, not hated government regulation. Unfortunately, if we keep electing these guys they’ll probably continue their piecemeal assault on the environment and we’ll have a chance to find out precisely how effective the free market is at protecting common goods like our air and water. In the most literal sense of the word, it won’t be a pretty sight.

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