The resurgent GOP are really going full-steam ahead right now with some rather controversial bills. Just within the last week, one was drafted to completely abolish the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and another has been set up to allow the federal government to easily sell off pristine public land to the highest bidder.
Now, as reported by Reuters, the Republican-dominated House of Representatives just voted on a bill to repeal two key rules designed to target corruption and pollution in the energy sector. The Senate, also dominated by the GOP, is expected to approve the bill within a week, which would effectively delete these laws from the legislature.
Brought in by the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform measures, the anti-corruption rule made the disclosure of financial transactions, taxes, and the minutiae of sizeable business deals of massive conglomerates, including ExxonMobil, mandatory. The idea was that these companies had increased oversight, and any suspicious dealings could be investigated by independent bodies.
Republican Representative Jeb Hensarling of Texas, who has a stridently conservative record when it comes to legislation, told the floor that this rule was part of “a radical leftist elitist agenda against carbon-based jobs.”
As you can imagine, ExxonMobil lobbied heavily to repeal this rule. In retrospect, then, it looks like the fossil fuel group’s fortunes have taken a turn for the better. Lest we forget, just this week, its former chief was sworn in as the government's Secretary of State.
The second rule, brought forward by the Department of the Interior under Obama, aimed to cut the risk of water pollution via coal mining. Essentially, it required companies to monitor and test waterway quality that could be harmed by nearby mining operations.
Republicans have stridently claimed that these regulations are “unworkable” and unfairly target coal industries – but that’s simply because these industries frequently pollute waterways. Removing this rule will allow coal groups to operate with reckless abandon in this regard rather than consider what actions they can take to reduce their environmental damage.
The imminent demise of these two rules is part of a package of repeals that the President’s party is pushing through at the moment as part of an effort to “shrink” the government and alter the tax code. The speed at which this is happening is thanks to the careful wording of the Congressional Review Act, which allows lawmakers to permanently reverse new regulatory measures without impediment.
It’s hard not to notice that it appears to be mostly environmental protection regulations, signed into law at the tail end of the Obama administration, that are up for annihilation.