Furloughed employees from the Environmental Protection Agency march into a wooded area to do volunteer trail maintenance on a public canoe access point on the Eno River in Hillsborough, N.C. on Thursday, Oct. 10, 2013.
Gerry Broome/ap

Senate Republicans find silver lining in EPA furloughs

With one day left to raise the debt ceiling, Senate Republicans couldn’t resist taking one last swipe at the Environmental Protection Agency.

In a blog post appearing on the Senate’s Environment & Public Works Committee website, staffers for the minority party outlined 10 reasons the shutdown hasn’t been “all bad,” including the furlough of 15,000 EPA employees. Republicans in the Senate committee, led by Louisiana Sen. David Vitter, praised the agency’s 90% furlough, arguing that the effects of the shutdown have stopped EPA bureaucrats from “[making] up science on new regulations” and enforcing the Clean Water Act.

Under each point made in the blog post is thin “evidence” of why the shutdown’s effect on the EPA is something to be celebrated. Part of the committee’s proof that the EPA furloughs are good for the country is the case of John C. Beale, a former EPA senior official at the EPA’s Office of Air & Radiation, who pled guilty last month to stealing nearly $900,000 from the agency over 13 years by filing bogus expenses while claiming he was working for the CIA. Based on that reasoning, one corrupt employee is ostensibly enough for Republicans to celebrate the furlough of 15,000 employees.

The list also criticizes former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar for “essentially shutting down all oil and gas production in the Gulf of Mexico,” which Republicans argue have had a negative impact on energy production. But Salazar did not shut down oil and gas production in the Gulf; he issued a temporary moratorium on deepwater oil drilling in the Gulf in 2010 after the BP oil spill dumped nearly 5 million barrels of oil into the area.

Congressional Republicans have fought to push through piecemeal bills to fund various parts of the government—namely, the parts of the government that Republicans support. Democrats have argued that that approach is a gimmick. “We cannot have a wholesale shutdown and a piecemeal startup,” Texas Rep. Al Green said at a protest outside of the Capitol earlier this month.

EPA and Government Shutdowns

Senate Republicans find silver lining in EPA furloughs