If the GOP can’t destroy nature, they’ll at least make sure others can’t enjoy it
Photo: Rosa SayWhat happens if Republicans, frustrated by opposition to their spending bill amendments (some of which defang the EPA), decide to hold their collective breath until they get their way? Well, the government shuts down. That means a whole lot of government employees get an unwanted furlough (JOBS!). It could also spell disaster for the country’s national parks. Petulant, makes the economy worse, kills Bambi’s mom … yup, sounds like the GOP.
Real Americans hate nature: Never mind the 16,000 parks employees who’d be sitting at home and the 267,000 private-sector employees who depend on the parks for their business (JOBS!). Those people are other people, historically not something that motivates congressional Republicans. Where’s the MONEY?
A 1999 CRS study found that the [last] shutdown caused local communities near national parks to lose an estimated $14.2 million per day in tourism revenues, for a total of nearly $400 million over the course of the weeks-long shutdown.
Oh. Well seriously, does this country really need an extra $400 million? It does? Well maybe it should get it from something less wussy than parks, then.
Those who don’t care about history are happy to repeat it: The last time there was a government shutdown, there were noteworthy effects on parks, the environment, and health care.
The last time the federal government went dark was for five days in November 1995 and another 21 days, ending in January 1996, during the Clinton administration.
As a result, the government closed 368 National Park Service sites, along with national museums and monuments, according to a Congressional Research Service report.
In addition, 200,000 passport applications went unprocessed, and toxic waste cleanup work at 609 sites stopped, according to the same report. The National Institutes of Health stopped accepting new clinical research patients, and services for veterans, including health care, were curtailed.
But on the other hand, if Republicans don’t force the issue to a stalemate, we risk having an Environmental Protection Agency that can actually protect the environment! Who does THAT help?
Irony alert: On the plus side — maybe sorta — the shutdown would also halt permitting for mining, drilling, and other land use issues handled by the Department of the Interior. But a brief hiatus from new permits is cold comfort if the government comes back to work with a severely hobbled EPA.
Get Grist in your inbox