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Enemies of the earth

The root of the word “conservative” is servare, a Latin verb that means to make safe, save, preserve, guard, etc.

But conservatives in Madison and Washington have abandoned any pretense that they’re interested in conserving the Earth. Instead, they’re pushing through policies that would liberally squander the planet’s resources in the pursuit of short-term financial gain for their big corporate sponsors.

The scope of Republicans’ efforts to destroy environmental protections at the state and federal levels is shocking. On April 7, every Republican in the U.S. House of Representatives (except for five who did not vote) joined with 19 Democrats to approve a measure that would effectively nullify the EPA’s authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from factories, oil and gas producers, power plants and other large polluters.

In fact, the measure would repeal the EPA’s 2009 finding that climate change is a result of greenhouse gas emissions. Congress has never before overruled or repealed the EPA’s scientific determination on a pollutant in the more than 40-year history of the Clean Air Act.

In Wisconsin, a coalition of environmental groups has branded Gov. Scott Walker’s state budget “a serious attack on natural resource and public health protections.”

The budget repeals state law requiring recycling programs and changes the recycling enforcement law to apply only to individuals, letting corporations off the hook. The budget removes incentives for green business development and farmland preservation.

The budget also guts much of Wisconsin’s Clean Water Act. It liberalizes phosphorus-dumping rules and delays their implementation until 2013. This is a reward for the infamous Koch brothers, whose Georgia Pacific plants are responsible for 9 percent of the total phosphorus pollution in the lower Fox River. The Koch brothers have given millions to the Wisconsin GOP, especially Walker and Supreme Court Justice David Prosser.

If the governor’s reckless assault on the environment goes forward unchallenged, Wisconsin could someday more resemble pollution-ravaged areas of China and Eastern Europe than the relatively pristine state that we know. Republicans like to invoke the “natural” order when it comes to disapproving of same-sex relationships, but they show nothing but disdain for nature when it interferes with their greed.

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