Friday, February 23, 2001

Environmentalists, Chabot in league




By Howard Wilkinson
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Environmentalists and conservative Republican congressmen rarely see eye-to-eye.

        But U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot and the Ohio Public Interest Research Group came together Thursday to denounce “wasteful” federal spending they say harms the environment.

        “Most Republicans believe, like Democrats, that we should drink clean water and breathe clean air,” the Cincinnati Republican said in a joint press conference with OPIRG officials in his downtown office. “But you can protect the environment without wasting taxpayers' dollars.”

        OPIRG Director Amy Simpson said the environmental and consumer activist group's Green Scissors 2001 campaign has targeted 74 federal programs for elimination from this year's federal budget.

        Elimination of the programs, Ms. Simpson said, would save the taxpayers $55 billion and “stop the harm they do to public health and the environment.”

        Mr. Chabot was chosen by OPIRG to help spotlight the campaign, Ms. Simpson said, “because he has a reputation as a congressman who fights government waste.”

        He is not, however, a congressman with a reputation as an environmentalist. The League of Conservation Voters' survey of key environmental votes in Congress last year had Mr. Chabot voting with the environmentalist position 30 percent of the time.

        While Ms. Simpson and OPIRG Legislative Director Bryan Clark were holding the press conference with Mr. Chabot in Cincinnati, other OPIRG officials were holding a similar event in Cleveland with U.S. Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones, a liberal Democrat, who, like Mr. Chabot, supports the Green Scissors budget-cutting agenda.

        “Pork knows no political parties,” Mr. Chabot said.

        Among programs OPIRG wants eliminated from the federal budget:

        • A timber sales program that allows the U.S. Forest Service to give companies access to trees in national forests, which would save $1.7 billion if eliminated.

        • Repeal or reform of the 1872 Mining Law, which enables hard-rock mining companies to extract billions of dollars worth of minerals from public land, while avoiding the costs of environmental clean-up.

        • A “clean coal” technology program that has given utilities $2 billion since 1984 to find ways of reducing pollution from the coal burning process. OPIRG believes the money would be better spent on cleaner energy sources.

       



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