Reflecting partisan divisiveness, Republican politicians associate devious ulterior motives and/or sinister ramifications with virtually every Obama environmental initiative. This even applies to proposals previously supported, if not conceived, by the Republican Party before the president took office.
An example is Obama's announced regulation to reduce coal fired power plant carbon emissions. The 2008 presidential ticket of John McCain and Sarah Palin subscribed to a similar idea on the campaign trail with the support of the majority of party officials. But just the thought of emission reductions being part of Obama's aspirational legacy is enough for contemporary Republicans to reverse field. Today's party orthodoxy demands that federally mandated greenhouse gas emission reductions be impugned as catalysts for job loss, soaring electricity rates, and a declining economy. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, an original supporter of McCain's campaign position, labelled the Obama initiative "a dagger in the middle class' heart."
Republicans often resort to tortured logic to justify condemnation of an Obama environmental policy. No action, however seemingly benign, is immune from such treatment. Witness the GOP's outrage when Obama unilaterally created a 500,000-acre national monument in New Mexico. As irate as the Republicans were at the president's autonomy, he was well within his authority, conferred by the 1906 Antiquity Act. Frustrated, some Republicans went off the deep end and accused Obama of facilitating illegal immigration by weakening the border security with his conservation designation.
Homeland Security officials begged to differ, contending that establishment of the monument actually provided border patrols with more flexibility.
Conspiratorial-minded Republicans even aimed scathing criticism at Mrs. Obama's nutritional school lunch guidelines to counter the childhood obesity epidemic. The guidelines were denounced as a totalitarian exercise by the "food police."
Any regulatory proposal to curb global warming is dismissed as a democratic ploy to consolidate political power in the federal government.
The Law of the Sea Treaty is a pact to assure international cooperation in monitoring international waters and has been signed by more than 175 nations. Obama would happily follow suit, but that won't happen because of opposition by Republican senators who consider the treaty a threat to our nation's sovereignty.
Many Republicans assert that Obama's renewable energy initiative is a thinly disguised scheme to award government contracts to business cronies dabbling with a green agenda.
The administration's policies to restrict development on conservation-oriented public lands and protect endangered species on private land are denounced as undue encroachment on individual freedom and private property rights.
In response to Obama, the out-of-power Republicans have been uniformly negative toward any regulatory attempt at environmental protection. It makes one wonder whether they would be capable of responsible governance of the environment if given the opportunity.
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