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There's been a lot going on this week, and most of us have probably been paying a lot of attention to the GOP's frankly immoral quest to prevent people from having access to food or health insurance.

However, in addition to really hating the working poor, the elderly, the disabled, and children, the GOP really hates the environment--especially when it gets in the way of profit. Consequently, the House GOP passed two bills gutting environmental protections this week, both (unfortunately) with some Democratic help.

On Wednesday, the House passed the National Strategic and Critical Minerals Production Act of 2013 by a vote of 246 to 178. 15 Democrats voted with the full Republican caucus in attendance in favor of this giveaway to mining companies.

The bill would speed up the federal approval process for mineral mining and exploration, allowing federal agencies only 30 months to decide on whether to approve or reject permits and limiting the ability of parties to stop mining via the court system.

I'll allow the great Rep. Rush Holt to explain the problems with this bill:

"Under the guise of promoting the development of minerals critical to the United States' national security, this legislation would reshape mining decisions on public lands for almost all minerals," said Rep. Rush Holt (D-N.J.). "The bill's classification of critical minerals is so broad that even sand and gravel and other such things can fall under its definition."

Holt said the broad definition amounts to a "giveaway" to mining companies. He also rejected the idea that federal agencies are slowing down the approval process for mining companies simply to make their lives miserable.

"They are charged with protecting the lands that belong to Americans, the health of Americans and the long-term welfare of the communities," he said of federal agencies.

The Democrats who voted for this corporate giveaway were, for the most part, the usual suspects:

John Barrow (GA-12)
Sanford Bishop (GA-02)
Jim Costa (CA-16)
Henry Cuellar (TX-28)
Pete Gallego (TX-23)

Steven Horsford (NV-04)
Jim Matheson (UT-04)
Mike McIntyre (NC-07)
Grace Meng (NY-106)
Rick Nolan (MN-08)

Bill Owens (NY-21)
Collin Peterson (MN-07)
Terri Sewell (AL-07)
Dina Titus (NV-01)
Filemon Vela (TX-34)

Several Democrats proposed amendments to restrict the legislation; all of their amendments failed. I will highlight two of them here.

Gerry Connolly (VA-11) proposed an amendment that would require the completion of an environmental impact for mineral exploration and mining projects before their approval. It failed 186 to 240.

10 Democrats voted with the full Republican caucus:

John Barrow (GA-12)
Sanford Bishop (GA-02)
Henry Cuellar (TX-28)
Pete Gallego (TX-23)
Dan Maffei (NY-24)
Jim Matheson (UT-04)
Bill Owens (NY-21)
Collin Peterson (MN-07)
Kyrsten Sinema (AZ-09)
Filemon Vela (TX-34)

Alcee Hastings (FL-20) proposed an amendment that would require mining companies' insurance policies to include possible cleanup costs. It failed 191 to 235. Only 1 Republican---NY-19's Chris Gibson--voted for it. Five Democrats voted against it:

Dan Maffei (NY-24)
Jim Matheson (UT-04)
Mike McIntyre (NC-07)
Bill Owens (NY-21)
Ed Perlmutter (CO-07)

The other bill passed by the House GOP was the deceptively titled Restoring Healthy Forests for Healthy Communities Act. (Deceptive nomenclature is an art for the GOP.) The bill would require timber production on at least half of federal forestlands. The bill's supporters claimed that it would help reduce forest fires. If they cared about reducing forest fires, then they might stop blocking efforts to address climate change. But our House Republicans are not known for their consistency or rational thinking. So it goes.

Oh, and the bill also waives environmental laws such as the Endangered Species Act and the National Environmental Policy Act.

The bill passed 244 to 173, largely along partisan lines. One Republican--again, Gibson--voted against it. 17 Democrats voted for it. Here they are:

Ron Barber (AZ-02)
John Barrow (GA-12)
Sanford Bishop (GA-02)
Jim Costa (CA-16)
Henry Cuellar (TX-28)

Pete DeFazio (OR-04)
Bill Enyart (IL-12)
Ann Kirkpatrick (AZ-01)
Jim Matheson (UT-04)
Mike McIntyre (NC-07)

Rick Nolan (MN-08)
Bill Owens (NY-21)
Collin Peterson (MN-07)
Nick Rahall (WV-03)
Kurt Schrader (OR-05)

Kyrsten Sinema (AZ-09)
Terri Sewell (AL-07)

Originally posted to Liberty Equality Fraternity and Trees on Fri Sep 20, 2013 at 04:43 PM PDT.

Also republished by DK GreenRoots.

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