Zombies are a hot topic in pop culture these days — zombie books, zombie television shows, and even rumors of a Brad Pitt led zombie movie.
And unfortunately, the zombie trend has reached Capitol Hill, and some bad policy ideas are crawling out of the legislative graveyard.
First is the reanimated Dirty Air Act, which was originally a resolution from Senator Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) to strip the Environmental Protection Agency of its ability to regulate greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide — the only way, given the Senate’s inaction on climate legislation, currently available to limit dangerous carbon pollution from industrial sources.
The Dirty Air Act has been revived this time by Sen. Jay Rockefeller (WV). This time the act would prevent the EPA from limiting carbon pollution for two years — which is two years too many to allow free dumping of carbon pollution into our skies.
As the Senate continues to postpone meaningful action on climate change — delaying until at least September — this amendment would set a dangerous precedent. By handicapping the EPA, the government agency tasked with protecting our health by protecting our clean air and water, the Dirty Air Act is an anti-health bill, inviting polluters to poison our air and water for at least two more years without any recourse whatsoever.
Another bad idea shambling out of the halls of Congress is one that seems to be immune from any and all attempts to kill it for good: drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, the last, best landscape in the world, and the crown jewel of the National Wildlife Refuge System.
Ironically, this horrifying nightmare has been seen lurking around the House and Senate versions of bills to deal with cleaning up the oily disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, threatening one treasured landscape on a bill meant to clean up another.
The reasons to keep the drills out of the Arctic Refuge are numerous, ranging from the calving grounds of the legendary Porcupine caribou herd, to the polar bears that live along the coast, to the Gwich’in people that call the Refuge their home.
While there are no current specific proposals to open the Refuge to the likes of BP and other oil and gas companies, this dangerous policy idea keeps clawing its way back to the surface — requiring our constant vigilance.
As in zombie movies, zombie bills are hard to eliminate completely. But if we stay vigilant, organized and vocal, we can make sure that the Congress never lets them roam freely on this earth.
Caribou in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Courtesy USFWS.