Once upon a time, Republicans were leaders in Environmental Protection.
It was a Republican President (Nixon) that signed the law that created the Environmental Protection Agency, the Clean Water and Air Acts, and the Endangered Species Acts.
Republican President George H.W. Bush supported legislation to combat acid rain.
In Arizona, it was Republican Presidents Harrison (National Forest) and Roosevelt (National Monument) who started the process of making the Grand Canyon a National Park that Democratic President Wilson proclaimed in 1919.
Fast-forward 100 years later and the present incarnation of the Republican Party has a different anti-environmental agenda than Republicans from just a quarter-century ago.
These reactionary anti-regulation business-friendly Republicans who found an audience in the Reagan, Bush II, and the Trump Administrations, have mostly followed an anti environmentally friendly posture.
This has been clearly evident over the last couple of weeks when most Republicans in the House of Representatives did not support legislation to ban uranium mining in and immediately outside the Grand Canyon National Park Area. Inexplicably, none of Arizona’s Republican House Representatives (Lesko, Biggs, Gosar, and Schweikert) voted for the measure that had been partially sponsored by Arizona Democrats Tom O’Halleran and Raul Grijalva.
In another anti-environmental move, the Trump Administration formally commenced the countdown to exit from the Paris Climate Agreement.
Arizona Democrats vying to replace Republicans Lesko, Biggs, and Schweikert expressed their views on the recent actions.
Democratic Congressional District Five Candidate Joan Greene
“Uranium mining would negatively impact the thriving tourism economy in the region if the Grand Canyon watershed groundwater was contaminated. The health of the Havasupai and other communities in the watershed would be in danger, and they could be forced to leave the area permanently.”
“The Grand Canyon is one of the most well known US national parks and one of the most visited attractions in the country. It is one of the seven natural wonders of the world.”
“All you have to do is look at Andy Biggs FEC filings to understand why he is bowing to special interest and mining companies. It is a shame that Biggs who is a native of Arizona is willing to sell our public lands and harm our environment for a few dollars.”
“We need people in Congress who will protect our public lands now and for future generations to enjoy.”
“Trump’s triggering the countdown for the USA to leave the Paris Climate Agreement confirms what the majority of the Country and the world has known from day one.”
“Trump never wanted to be President to continue the greatness of America by building on the successes of past Presidents. His legacy could have been as an innovator and a leader in the global climate crisis.
“I’m sure he left the PCA because fossil fuel companies were lining his pockets and because Putin told him to. The irony is coal companies are going bankrupt and Putin is inching closer to ratifying the Paris climate accord by the end of the year.”
“Trump and the GOP who do not believe in science are a cautionary tale of the deadly consequences when we elect people who govern by ignorance.”
Democratic Congressional District Six Candidate Anita Malik
“Thankfully these protections for our environment & indigenous lands passed the House despite him.”
“He stands with lobbyists, I don’t.”
“(The) formal withdrawal of the #ParisAgreement jeopardizes our health and our national security.”
“We can’t ignore the realities of the climate crisis, and despite this reckless move, we won’t.”
“Together, we’ll continue the fight for the future.”
Democratic Congressional District Six Candidate Dr. Hiral Tipirneni
“Representative Schweikert voted against protecting the #GrandCanyon from uranium mining.”
“The Grand Canyon supports our local economies, indigenous communities, & is the crown jewel of our national parks.”
“He’s again shown he’ll put corporate interests over Arizonans. #AZ06”
Democratic Congressional District Eight Candidate Michael Muscato
“On Lesko’s Grand Canyon Vote”
“Do you like the Grand Canyon? I like the Grand Canyon. Want to know who doesn’t like the Grand Canyon? Congresswoman Debbie Lesko!”
“Lesko voted “NO” on H.R. 1373, which protects over 1M acres of Arizona’s best, most famous and fragile natural resource from the sale (yes, selling the Grand Canyon), mining, leasing, and destructive polluting. She stood in the Well of the House and gave a speech defending the practice of hydraulic fracking, making it sound it was as innocuous as drilling a water well. Apparently, she’s not aware of or has chosen to ignore reports, movies, of water from wells near fracking sites catching on fire, sickening men, women, children, and livestock, poisoning the air, destroying property values and mortgage declinations.”
“She has also voted against H.R. 9, the “Climate Action Now Act” and five other bills that protect the environment and our coastlines. Debbie Lesko is telling us who she is and she is no friend to those who care about or will have to suffer the consequences of poor environmental management and lack of vision.”
“Debbie Lesko is just as willing to sell out the Grand Canyon, as she is all her votes in Congress. There’s no doubt now who she works for and it isn’t you or me.”
Democratic Congressional District Eight Candidate Bob Musselwhite
“The Grand Canyon is a national and international natural treasure, not to mention its place as the de facto slogan of the State of Arizona, ‘The Grand Canyon State’. There is no such thing as reclamation when strip mining is involved. Any threat to the Grand Canyon and the Colorado River where we draw water for the valley is unwise and is a threat that could likely reach us in the Valley of the Sun”.
” I come from a farming background and one thing farmers keep a very close eye on is the weather. I have noticed unusual weather events from one end of this country to the other, east to the west both from personal observation and from friends and family that live across the country. There is no question in my mind that global temperatures are rising, and there is no question in my mind that water and temperature make weather and that we are going to have to work with people and governments around the world to solve this problem. If we do not address reality we will face unacceptable consequences that are going to cause people to have to relocate. Eighty percent of the carbon increase is coming from outside the United States. It is a very bad mistake to remove our country from this vital international effort.”
As 2018 Arizona Mining Democratic Mining Inspector Candidate Bill Pierce pointed out, any accidental leakage of uranium into the Colorado River from mining could jeopardize the drinking water for 40,000,000 American Citizens that rely on it.
Accidents like these, according to Pierce have already occurred in Church Rock, New Mexico with disastrous results for the local Navajo Native American Population.
Protecting the environment should not be a matter of debate among Republicans and Democrats.
As many have pointed out “we all breath the same air, walk the same Earth, and drink from the same water.”
Everyone knows there is no Planet B to journey to.
Both sides should do everything possible to make sure the planets air, water, and terrain are clean and safe for all life.
Featured Image from National Park Service