While the People’s attention has been focused elsewhere, GOP lawmakers have been busy continuing their ongoing attacks on environmental regulations and the laws protecting wildlife and endangered species. Their strategy is an old one.  Lawmakers attach “riders,” or unrelated provisions, to a piece of legislation that Congress has under consideration. This past year, an appalling number of GOP-sponsored riders have been designed to help out their fossil-fuel industry pimps at the expense of the planet.

Here are some of the current highlights of the ongoing GOP War on Planet Earth:

  • Section 511: Presented by Oklahoma Representative James Lankford, this rider prohibits the government from considering the social and environmental costs of carbon emissions, including the potential for catastrophic climate change when taking action on sustainable energy alternatives and carbon cleanup programs.
  • Section 7017: Put forward by Texas Republican Representative Kay Granger, this rider reverses the Presidential policy of not funding new coal-fired plants in foreign countries.
  • Section 420: This one comes to us from Republican Representative Ken Calvert of California. It would stop the EPA from putting limits on pollution from livestock operations. Calvert also presented a companion rider, Section 421. It would prohibit the EPA from requiring reports on the environmental impacts of manure management systems. Yet another one of Calvert’s riders (Section 435) would effectively end EPA regulations limiting carbon emissions from electrical power generation plants.
  • Section 430: Representative Calvert isn’t content simply allowing polluters to foul our air. Section 430 blocks the Department of the Interior from protecting streams from the effects of mountaintop removal coal mining operations. Calvert is also very protective of his friends in the livestock industry: Section 436 would prevent the public from knowing about the location of stockyards and how much pollution they are generating. It should come as no surprise that Calvert received $25,000 from the livestock industry during the last election cycle (source: OpenSecrets.org).
  • Section 529: The brainchild of another Texas GOP Congressman, former Representative Steve Stockman, it would force the Department of Energy to approve any and all offshore drilling permits.

This is just a sample. Other riders eliminate funding for wind energy, end protections for threatened species, and even gut the Clean Air Act entirely.  If you have a strong stomach, you can visit the National Resources Defense Council for a complete list of 2014 budget riders attacking environmental rules and protections – along with all the lurid details.

These GOP riders cause us to wonder if they have children and grandchildren. Do they even give a tinker’s damn about future generations who will have to live in the world they’re hell-bound and determined to destroy?

We can never know for certain what is going on in the diseased minds of GOP lawmakers. One thing is crystal clear however: the GOP has raised the stakes of the upcoming election considerably. It’s not just about economic justice anymore.

It’s about our collective survival.

K.J. McElrath is a former history and social studies teacher who has long maintained a keen interest in legal and social issues. In addition to writing for The Ring of Fire, he is the author of two published novels: Tamanous Cooley, a darkly comic environmental twist on Dante's Inferno, and The Missionary's Wife, a story of the conflict between human nature and fundamentalist religious dogma. When not engaged in journalistic or literary pursuits, K.J. works as an entertainer and film composer.