Fox News' Sean Hannity has spent the past week attacking President Obama over what Hannity called Obama's “incendiary language,” because Obama said Republicans want “dirtier air, dirtier water.” But Obama is right in that Republicans have repeatedly voted to weaken pollution limits this year.
Obama: Republicans Want “Dirtier Air, Dirtier Water”
President Obama: Republican Plan Is “Let's Have Dirtier Air, Dirtier Water.” During a tour touting his American Jobs Act, President Obama said:
THE PRESIDENT: Our plan says we need to make it easier for small businesses to grow and hire and push this economy forward. (Applause.)
All right, so you've gotten a sense -- you got their plan, and then we got my plan. My plan says we're going to put teachers back in the classroom; construction workers back to work rebuilding America, rebuilding our schools -- (applause) -- tax cuts for small businesses; tax cuts for hiring veterans; tax cuts if you give your worker a raise. (Applause.) That's my plan.
And then you got their plan, which is let's have dirtier air, dirtier water. [WhiteHouse.gov, 10/17/11]
Republicans Have Repeatedly Voted To Weaken Environmental Protections
Democratic Rep. Waxman: “This Is The Most Anti-Environment House In History.” A database created by Rep. Henry Waxman on the House Energy and Commerce Committee website shows that the House Republican majority has “voted 169 times this Congress to block action to address climate change, to halt efforts to reduce air and water pollution, to undermine protections for public lands and coastal areas, and to weaken the protection of the environment in other ways.” Waxman stated: “This is the most anti-environment House in history.” [House Energy And Commerce Committee, accessed 10/25/11]
EPA Director: House Republicans “Have Averaged Roughly A Vote Every Day” To “Undermine” Environmental Laws. From Environmental Protection Agency director Lisa Jackson's October 21 op-ed:
Americans must once again stand up for their right to clean air and clean water.
Since the beginning of this year, Republicans in the House have averaged roughly a vote every day the chamber has been in session to undermine the Environmental Protection Agency and our nation's environmental laws. They have picked up the pace recently -- just last week they voted to stop the EPA's efforts to limit mercury and other hazardous pollutants from cement plants, boilers and incinerators -- and it appears their campaign will continue for the foreseeable future.
How we respond to this assault on our environmental and public health protections will mean the difference between sickness and health -- in some cases, life and death -- for hundreds of thousands of citizens.
This is not hyperbole. The link between health issues and pollution is irrefutable. Mercury is a neurotoxin that affects brain development in unborn children and young people. Lead has similar effects in our bodies. Soot, composed of particles smaller across than a human hair, is formed when fuels are burned and is a direct cause of premature death. Nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds contribute to the ozone alert days when seniors, asthmatics and others with respiratory problems are at serious risk if they do nothing more dangerous than step outside and breathe the air. [Los Angeles Times, 10/21/11]
2012 Republican Presidential Candidates Have Also Called For Less Protections
GOP Presidential Candidates Oppose Environmental Regulations. In August, The New York Times reported:
The Environmental Protection Agency is emerging as a favorite target of the Republican presidential candidates, who portray it as the very symbol of a heavy-handed regulatory agenda imposed by the Obama administration that they say is strangling the economy.
Representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota wants to padlock the E.P.A.'s doors, as does former Speaker Newt Gingrich. Gov. Rick Perry of Texas wants to impose an immediate moratorium on environmental regulation.
Representative Ron Paul of Texas wants environmental disputes settled by the states or the courts. Herman Cain, a businessman, wants to put many environmental regulations in the hands of an independent commission that includes oil and gas executives. Jon M. Huntsman Jr., the former Utah governor, thinks most new environmental regulations should be shelved until the economy improves.
Only Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, has a kind word for the E.P.A., and that is qualified by his opposition to proposed regulation of carbon dioxide and other gases that contribute to global warming. [The New York Times, 8/17/11]
But Hannity Attacked Obama For What He Called “Irresponsible Scare Tactics”
Hannity Complained Obama Was Using “Incendiary Language.” On October 18, Hannity said of Obama's comments: “Whatever happened to the guy that says, you know, we can't use this incendiary language?” He also stated: “You know what? I'm busted. I've always wanted dirtier air and dirtier water for my kids, don't you?” [Fox News, Hannity, 10/18/11]
Hannity: Obama “Wants To Demonize His Opposition.” The next night, Hannity also said Obama's rhetoric has “gotten more shrill, more extreme,” complaining that “he wants to demonize his opposition -- the guy that, you know, lectures everybody on tone and civility.” [Fox News, Hannity, 10/19/11]
Hannity: Obama Is Using “Absurd And Irresponsible Scare Tactics.” On October 20, Hannity said Obama's comments are “absurd and irresponsible scare tactics.” Hannity also said: “You got the president saying they want dirty air, conservatives, and dirty water. I actually prefer for my children clean water and clean air. What a shock.” [Fox News, Hannity, 10/20/11]
Hannity Also Ridiculed Obama For His Comments. On October 24, Hannity stated: “Republicans want dirty air and water. I have got to admit, I'm a registered conservative, and this has been my wish for years. I just haven't admitted publicly. I want for my children, dirtier air and dirtier water.” [Fox News, Hannity, 10/24/11]
Hannity Has Also Railed Against Environmental Protections
Hannity Downplayed Link Between Air Pollution And Asthma. On April 20, Hannity criticized Obama for saying that pollution from coal-fired power plants is “creating asthma for kids nearby.” Hannity dismissed the connection between asthma and coal pollution, saying that “the exact cause of asthma is not known.” However, public health studies have found that coal-fired power plants are responsible for asthma attacks. [Fox News, Hannity, 4/20/11, via Media Matters, 4/21/11]
Hannity Ridiculed Plastic Bag Laws Aimed At Curbing Water Pollution. On August 4, Hannity said in San Francisco, “They want to ban plastic bags. You know when they say paper or plastic, I say double plastic just to annoy liberals.” Hannity was referring to a law passed in the District of Columbia discouraging the use of plastic bags after the D.C. Department of the Environment released a report on the Anacostia Watershed stating that the “single largest component of trash in the streams, and most likely in the river, is plastic bags.” [Fox News, Hannity, 8/4/11; Media Matters, 4/8/10]
Hannity Has Opposed Regulation Of Greenhouse Gas Pollution By Repeatedly Questioning Climate Change. Hannity and his guests have repeatedly pushed false claims about climate change, claiming it “doesn't exist” and pushing “global cooling” falsehoods. [Media Matters, accessed 10/25/11]