Tuesday, August 29, 2017

No One Has Told The DCCC Yet, But Derrick Crowe Is Ready To Oust Lamar Smith In TX-21

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On Monday, Evan Lund penned a post, Climate Denier Congressman Lamar Smith Contends With New Foe: Declining Voter Support, for an environmental website, Earth Island Journal, that should strike a note of fear in the Lamar Smith campaign... if they read environmental websites. They don't. From 1988 to 2002, Smith had never won reelection with less than 72% of the vote. "The secret to his winning ways?" asked Lund.
After receiving the Award for Conservative Excellence, Smith stated, “My votes represent my constituents. I continue to stand for liberty, personal responsibility, traditional values, and a strong national defense.” Simple as that-- keep your constituents happy, keep your job. Yet, as important as ideology is to attracting voters, campaign contributions are what keep the lights on, and in Texas, donors in the energy business hold sway over anyone seeking public office. True to its big motto, Texas is the nation’s leading energy producer and consumer, responsible for more than one-third of total US oil production and home to one-quarter of proven natural gas reserves. With more operable oil refineries than any other state, the industry generates enormous levels of revenue-- last year, it pumped $9.4 billion into state and local government budgets. For politicians, these industrial goliaths present a choice: either advocate for their interests or scrutinize their means of production. Not that it’s that cut and dry, but what is clear is that Rep. Smith forged his alliance long ago, having received over the course of his career more than $700,000 from the oil and gas industry.

As such, Smith’s enduring interest in dismantling regulations geared toward combating climate change can be interpreted as “bought.” There’s nothing conservative about his skepticism of climate science-- he is an outspoken denier of the causes and dire expected outcomes of anthropogenic climate change, and since being appointed the HCSST chairman, he has made it his mission to investigate federal agencies for what he believes to be rampant environmentalism and unnecessary, harmful regulation. His dismissive attitude doesn’t stop at manmade global warming-- he has openly doubted an EPA review documenting the dangers of glyphosphate, the peer review process itself at the National Science Foundation (NSF), and air pollution regulations informed by public health studies, to name just a few.

With an anti-regulation administration as his tailwind, Chairman Smith and Vice Chairman Frank Lucas recently recycled two pieces of legislation, wrapped them in shiny packaging, and reintroduced both to the House of Representatives as bills advocating for transparency and accountability in science-based policy, while guarding against the scrum of compromised bureaucracy. Both were passed by the House in late March, and await Senate consideration.

The first bill, the Honest and Open New EPA Science Treatment (HONEST) Act, is part of Smith’s continuing strategy to make the EPA, and science itself, great again. To purportedly promote governmental transparency and maintain the integrity of the scientific review process, the HONEST Act’s payload is prohibiting the agency from “writing any regulation that uses science that is not publicly available.” As the HCSST chairman, Smith already has the outright power to demand supporting documentation of published studies from federal agencies within his purview, a rule amended and expanded this past January. If an agency doesn’t comply, he can issue a subpoena. Since its inception more than 60 years ago, the subcommittee has invoked that power in total fewer times than Smith has in his first three years leading the committee.

Moreover, it’s not as if the EPA, or any federal agency, has closed its door to the public. The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) already provides any person the right to access federal agency records, including, for example, the data cited in a study used by the EPA for the purposes of advocating specific policy. However, there are nine exemptions to the FOIA, and this is where the HONEST Act can harm the EPA. For example, the EPA can currently use and cite studies involving personal medical records to develop public health advisories. If signed into law, the HONEST Act wouldn’t necessarily inhibit the EPA from sourcing confidential information-- as long as everything confidential is redacted prior to public availability. Insurmountable? No, but considering the estimated cost of enforcing its stipulations and factoring in President Trump’s proposed budget cuts, the HONEST Act would almost guarantee less regulation and evidence-based policy from the EPA, irrespective of the public need for it.
Note: Only 7 Republicans had the guts to vote against Smith's crazy, dishonest and environmentally devastating bill. It passed 228-194, 3 corrupt Blue Dogs crossing the aisle and voting for planetary destruction: Jim Costa (CA), Henry Cuellar (TX) and Collin Peterson (MN). The second bill, the EPA Science Advisory Board (SAB) Reform Act, "seeks to upend the types of professionals that comprise the 48-person panel of experts in place to provide independent scientific counsel to the agency." It passed 229-193, with 5 Republicans voting NO but 2 scummy Blue Dogs voting with the GOP, Peterson again, plus Oregon right-wing lunatic Kurt Schrader.
Currently, the majority of the board is academic scientists; if passed, the act will cater to industry representatives from private companies who “may have a potential interest in the Board’s advisory activities.” In brief, the SAB Reform Act would bar any scientist holding an EPA grant from serving due to the potential conflict of interest, as well as prohibit a board member from being awarded one for three years following their service, yet it would allow a scientist from say, Exxon, because that affiliation shouldn’t exclude their membership provided they disclose any conflicts.

Keep in mind that the SAB doesn’t award grants or establish budgets, and if a situation arose, for example, where a chemical studied by an SAB scientist was being investigated by the SAB, that member would already have to recuse themself. Smith maintains that there’s nothing to see here, claiming that reform is necessary to strengthen the public’s trust in the EPA through increased transparency, opportunity for public participation in the review process, and accountability of a well-balanced SAB.

...Meanwhile, the 2018 midterm elections are quickly approaching, and there are signs that Smith’s seat may be in jeopardy. Last year, for the first time in his career, Smith received less than 60 percent of the general vote, and many voters in his district are growing tired of his inaccessibility. And in a break from previous election cycles, in 2016 the editorial board at the San Antonio Express News refused to support Smith’s reelection bid. The board’s public announcement ended with a statement to their readers that they “have no doubt that Smith will be reelected, but in good conscience... cannot make a recommendation in this race.”

Although the DCCC has recruited and is secretly backing another one of their shitty "ex"-Republican multimillionaires pretending to be a Democrat, Joseph Kopser, there is real hope in a real Democrat, Derrick Crowe, who has been endorsed by Blue America. As Lund noted, Crowe is "prioritizing climate change policy as a key pillar of his platform. Albeit politically perilous for some candidates, choosing a side is a smart move because this debate is only getting louder. Public advocacy organizations like TX21 Indivisible and 314 Action represent a grassroots movement opposing Smith and his brand of ideological fervor that flies in the face of scientific evidence their members support... [Smith, an] emboldened politician, who has built his brand on publicly mocking and harassing climate scientists, finds himself in perhaps the most precarious position of his career. Almost a decade after Republican presidential candidate John McCain ran on a platform aligned with the consensus of climate scientists regarding emissions-reductions action, the evidence linking human activity to a warming planet has only grown stronger. A study investigating the economic impact of climate change in America recently published in Science Magazine revealed some disturbing potential outcomes for large swaths of Texas, including a 20 percent increase in energy costs by 2080. For politicians, climate change is becoming less a peripheral topic that can be casually dismissed and more like a voter issue with real-world, near-term implications. In terms of catastrophic outcomes, climate scientists keep telling us that the real question is not if they will occur, but when. For Lamar Smith, it might finally be time to consider the same."

Earlier today, we asked Derrick Crowe about the hypocrisy inherent in Smith's refusal to vote for aid for the victims of Hurricane Sandy in New York and New Jersey, but his apparent approval of spending potentially much more money closer to home for the victims of Hurricane Harvey. He pointed out that "Natural disasters and the growing climate emergency require us to pull together as a nation to deal with challenges that one region could never shoulder on their own. That's what we mean by 'one nation, indivisible.' Lamar Smith's grandstanding on his extreme version of conservatism endangers his constituents and Texans generally by undermining people's willingness to support our area when it's our turn to need help. In fact, this whole attitude extends to his larger stance on issues like health care.

"When you add the fact that Smith has consistently opposed real action on climate change, it's clear that Smith's reactionary politics are a liability to the people of this district. Consider that just a few weeks ago, Smith wrote an op-ed where he said global warming and 'carbon enrichment' have great upsides for which we should be thankful. Tell that to the victims of Hurricane Harvey, who had to suffer unprecedented rainfall, of which up to 30 percent could be attributed to human-caused global warming."

Goal ThermometerIt's time-- truthfully, very much past time-- for every American to take a stand on this. We're either going to lead the world out of this severe existential climate mess or we're going to flush all of mankind's future down the toilet by going along with the corrupt, bought-off political hacks like Lamar Smith. Smith already has $814,898 in his war-chest for 2018 and, although Derrick won't have to match that, he will need help to get his message (and his name) known to TX-21 voters. Please re-read what he said above and, if it appeals to your way of thinking on this, consider helping fund his grassroots campaign to flip a red seat blue-- and, in the process, emancipate our brothers and sisters in downtown Austin! Just click on the 2018 Blue America ActBlue thermometer on the right and cruise down to Derrick Crowe's name and give what you can.

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3 Comments:

At 6:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fom the "Earth Island Journal" --"who has built his brand on publicly mocking and harassing climate scientists, finds himself in perhaps the most precarious position of his career"--

And that is perhaps what is called karma. Too bad it has to disrupt so many innocent people first.
ekstase

 
At 5:51 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's still fucking texas. don't count your cow pies just yet. the cows are still shitting.

 
At 10:34 AM, Blogger Matthew Montgomery said...

Following the wave in VA, DCCC has just put TX21 on its target list.

 

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