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30 June 2009, 9:20 AM
 

A good case could be made that the most important U.S. federal environmental laws are the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, and the National Environmental Policy Act. And what do they have in common? They were enacted (amended since in some cases) in the early 1970s and signed into law by Richard Nixon, a conservative republican.

Which makes the reaction of the Republican right wing to the recent House passage of a compromise climate bill so interesting.

The eight Republicans who voted in favor of the bill—Mark Kirk of Illinois; Mike Castle of Delaware; Mary Bono Mack of California; Dave Reichert of Washington; John McHugh of New York; and Frank LoBiondo, Leonard Lance, and Chris Smith of New Jersey are now the target of Rush Limbaugh and others who accuse them of joining the Obama administration's rush to socialism. The right-wingers are appealing to the Republican campaign committee to withhold support from the eight's next reelection campaigns.

The arguments, as always, revolve around claims that steps toward a green energy future and a cooler climate threaten to bankrupt the nation, to wreck an already reeling economy. The invaluable David Roberts at Grist has a fine piece that explains why such costs are often overstimated.

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