NY Republican Congressmen Cry Crocodile Tears for Sandy Recovery: It’s the Climate Change, Stupid

Damage in Hamilton Beach, Queens after Sandy. (Photo: Pam Andrade/CC/Flickr)

There's a scene of right-wing contradictions playing out in the nation's capital, as New York-based Republican Congressmen harangue their party's leadership for not acting swiftly enough to fund the recovery from Hurricane Sandy. Staunch small-government types like Michael Grimm and Peter King are demanding the House pass over $60 billion in relief funding that will allow the region to recover from a catastrophe that was probably only made worse by our failure to pass meaningful environmental regulations over the past two generations.

Damage in Hamilton Beach, Queens after Sandy. (Photo: Pam Andrade/CC/Flickr)

Damage in Hamilton Beach, Queens after Sandy. (Photo: Pam Andrade/CC/Flickr)

Lost in the conversation about how bad Sandy hit our communities is the fact that it was worse than it should have been because of climate change directly attributable to irresponsible human activity.

Relevantly enough, Grimm and King have been at the head of the Congressional anti environmental-protection crowd: killing, stripping or gutting the very environmental regulations we needed in place over 30 years ago. In fact, the two are among just a handful of New York politicians who consistently side with Big Money instead of the health of their constituents.

With climate change undeniably connected to industry and human activity (outside of academic institutions and think tanks that are, coincidentally enough, funded by the heaviest polluters), now might be a good time to consider the inherent contradiction of demanding funds to deal with a climate change-exacerbated disaster while voting against the very regulations that would help us slow down climate change.

Grimm and King, Republicans who both campaigned and voted like nothing needs to be done about the for-profit destruction of the environment, now fulminate that their constituents have no money to deal with the impact of climate change.

Among the least ecology-friendly politicians we have in the entire state, Peter King scores a woeful 14% on environmental issues according to the League of Conservation voters. Peter King votes against your health and environmentIn his eleven terms as Congressman, Peter King has voted against environmental regulation and protection a whopping 156 times (out of 193 environment-related bills). Most terribly, besides voting against regulating Coal Ash pollution and Toxic Emissions from boilers and kilns, King also voted in favor of the GOP assault on the Clean Air Act (H.R. 3010, H.R. 10, 2011), This bill was specifically designed to prevent the EPA from regulating greenhouse gases and to free Big Industry and Dirty Energy to dump poisons into the environment under the guise of "creating jobs" without having to worry about health and environmental impacts (for example, a freak storm like Sandy).

Michael Grimm, who represents portions of South Brooklyn directly impacted by Sandy, also had some salty words for Republican leadership calling the House' failure to vote on the Sandy Recovery package "a personal betrayal." But Grimm's words are, much like King's, devoted only to recovering from Sandy, not preventing future Sandy-type events--with little legislative interest in changing our environmentally destructive production and extraction practices that actually cause or exacerbate the extreme weather patterns we now have tor recover from. In his very short time in Congress, Grimm has voted down legislation meant to protect the environment 8 times over the course of the last two years alone, also garnering an abysmally low score of 14% from the League of Conservation Voters.

Additionally, Grimm, who represents an area nowhere near any oil or gas discoveries yet received over $40,000 in campaign contributions from the Dirty Energy industries (which includes oil and "natural" gas) voted to protect Dirty Energy subsidies on four different occasions in that time, representing over $90 billion in taxpayer give-aways to oil companies that are not just polluting our environmental community and exacerbating climate change but also already making record-breaking profits.

Climate change exacerbated by human activity (such as the use of atmosphere-choking fossil fuels) has been linked to not only Sandy, but also 10 other billion dollar weather disasters in 2012.

Meanwhile, with Congress already taking six times longer to approve Sandy recovery funds than they did to approve recovery funds for Katrina, East Coast residents will run into more and more government agencies that simply lack the adequate resources to help them. For example, FEMA's flood insurance pool of cash and even borrowable cash is about to run out. As explained by HuffPo

The federal government's mandatory flood insurance program will exhaust its borrowing authority and run out of money to pay claims from Hurricane Sandy sometime next week, Federal Emergency Management Agency officials said Wednesday.

The Senate passed a $60.2 billion storm relief bill last week that included $9.7 billion for federal flood insurance, but House leaders unexpectedly failed to bring the bill to the floor for a vote Tuesday night, saying the bill would be taken up by the new Congress.

While it remains unclear what Friday's vote on parts of the bill will fund, the entire sum being voted on is estimated to be around $9.1 billion, a couple of hundred million dollars short of what would be required to re-fund the federal mandatory flood insurance program alone.

--M Jalonschi

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