Although it was born in the tenure of a Republican president, Richard Nixon, the Environmental Protection Agency is held in contempt by many of today's far-right Republicans in Congress. Where once their party responded positively to the desire of Americans for clean air, water and land, now they are ideologically driven to cater to what industry wants.
And what influential segments of industry want is to have the Environmental Protection Agency put out of business, or at least severely limited -- all this on the shortsighted pretext of less government regulation promoting more jobs. To that end, Republicans as well as conservative-leaning Democrats have created bills and amendments to make a pinata out of the EPA.
This week several attacks on the Clean Air Act are expected in the Senate, as amendments attached to a small-business bill. The most serious is one by Republican Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, which would gut the EPA's ability to regulate carbon dioxide pollution contributing to climate change. But several Democrats also have their own ill-considered amendments targeting the EPA's role in the Clean Air Act, including one from Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia. All these amendments would harm Pennsylvania.
We look to Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey to stand firm (unfortunately, Sen. Pat Toomey is a co-sponsor of the McConnell measure). Mr. Casey should not be moved to compromise in deference to fellow Democrats or as a sop to Republicans. The Clean Air Act has been a godsend to this country and the EPA has proved that job growth and a clean environment are not mutually exclusive. Mr. Casey, this week let Pennsylvanians breathe easier.