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Published: Tuesday, 7/26/2011

Under siege

Ohio has the most toxic air pollution in the nation from coal- and oil-fired power plants, says a new report by the Natural Resources Defense Council and Physicians for Social Responsibility. Republican initiatives in Congress would make that dismal record even worse.

House GOP lawmakers are doing everything in their power to delay or stop the "mercury rule" the Environmental Protection Agency needs to clean the nation's air. More broadly, the EPA and the environment are in the political cross hairs to an extent not seen in years.

Ed Perry, a retired biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and an outreach coordinator with the National Wildlife Federation, says: "This is the most amazing assault on clean air, water, and wildlife I have seen in my 40 years of working on conservation issues."

This month, the GOP-controlled House passed a bill that would gut the EPA's power to set water standards for states. Never mind that water from one state can flow downriver to degrade the next.

The measure would roll back important provisions of the Clean Water Act, which for nearly 40 years has made tremendous progress in improving the quality of America's waterways for drinking, fishing, and recreation. Every Republican in Ohio's House delegation voted for this extremist legislation.

More mischief is pending. A House vote is expected soon on an Interior Department spending bill that includes noxious affronts to the idea of responsible environmental stewardship.

As well as making various assaults on the EPA, there's even a perverse provision in the measure that would place a moratorium on the listing of plants and animals under the Endangered Species Act (265 are pending).

The Obama Administration has indicated that it would veto this bill. But it shouldn't get that far. Ohio's representatives of both parties ought to vote against it first.

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