Deregulation is GOP's game

The name of the environmental game for Republican state legislators is deregulation.

The New York Times recently reported that many of these legislators are grabbing model legislation from the conservative group, American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, and introducing them into legislatures across the country. In order to achieve their goals under the guise of "job creation" is to deregulate these industries, starting with limiting the EPA's power.

Deregulation is a dangerous play. Oil spills like the one in the Gulf of Mexico are due in large part to oversight problems. Without constant and strict assessment of the industries that deal directly with our environment, we could have far worse disasters in our future.

These measures are starting out with energy industries and have spread to deregulation of our water supply and even conservation efforts.

It's sobering to know that groups like ALEC are leading the way in more and more harmful legislation being introduced by conservatives at the state level. If their numbers are right, that means thousands of bills are being introduced based on their models. Here are just some bills from five states:

Wisconsin
Included in the mad-dash "budget repair bill" passed by Republican lawmakers and Governor Scott Walker was a provision to reduce limits on phosphorus pollution. Progressive groups in Wisconsin are calling foul play because nine percent of all phosphorus pollution in the Lower Fox River comes from Georgia Pacific paper plants, a company owned by the Koch brothers.

Too much phosphorus in any water system means algae overgrowth and a deadly environment for fishes. But I guess that makes fishing easier? If they're all dead?

Maine
Almost within seconds of becoming governor of Maine, Paul LePage introduced a broad, sweeping plan to create jobs at the expense of serious environmental regulations. Two of the biggest proposal is one that would open up three million acres of the North Woods for development and delaying the implementation of a law passed last year that would monitor toxic chemicals in children's products. LaPage is also proposing to overturn a recent law that requires manufacturers pay for recycling of the products they make.

Florida
Governor Rick Scott is taking aim at conservation and restoration of the Everglades by cutting the $50 allocated in the current budget to $17 million - and millions more in other conservation efforts. And, in a turn that would have some thinking twice about hitting Palm Beach, a new bill will allow sewage plants to dump up to five percent of their treated wastewater into the Atlantic Ocean. In 2008, six utilities in Miami-Dade, Palm Beach and Broward agreed to stop dumping by 2025.

Maybe put your Florida vacation plans on halt until then.

North Carolina
Some legislators in North Carolina seem to then that economic recovery requires some job slashing. In a recent budget proposal, Republicans proposed cutting the Department of Environmental and Natural Resources by 22%. That 22% accounts for hundreds of jobs.

Nationwide
Two bills aimed at cutting the EPA at their knees have been introduced in the US House- the Free Industry Act and Ensuring Affordable Energy Act. The Free Industry Act would undercut the purpose of the Clean Air Act by excluding greenhouse gases from regulation. The Ensuring Affordable Energy Act would prevent the EPA from enforcing cap-and-trade programs.

In the future, we'll all be required to wear gas masks.