The Republicans v. Dr. Seuss

The Associated press reports that EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson got a rough grilling from the Democratic Senate majority at a hearing today:

At issue were a number of changes EPA made last year, including a new policy that reduces the role of scientists in setting air pollution standards; a move to raise the threshold for reporting releases of toxic chemicals; and the shuttering of five agency libraries where the public could look at scientific and health documents.

A Government Accountability Office study released Tuesday said that EPA did not adhere to its own rule-making in making the changes to toxic chemicals reporting. The Toxic Reporting Inventory changes, said GAO, “will likely have a significant impact on information available to the public about dozens of toxic chemicals” at facilities nationwide.

It’s no surprise that the administration is ignoring scientific evidence, not following its own rules, and reducing public participation. But then something else jumps out. Former chair James Inhofe of Oklahoma, who infamously invited Michael Crichton to the committee to attack climate change theorists, ridiculed the notion that the EPA should even have libraries. He pointed to, among other things, that one EPA library had a copy of Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax on its shelves.

When the Republicans are reduced to attacking Dr. Seuss, you know that they’ve got problems. Seuss’ book is actually a classic statement of the environmental movement: there’s a reason why it’s been in print for three decades. But perhaps it’s a little too much to ask Senator Inhofe to read the book he’s attacking.

Author: Jonathan Zasloff

Jonathan Zasloff teaches Torts, Land Use, Environmental Law, Comparative Urban Planning Law, Legal History, and Public Policy Clinic - Land Use, the Environment and Local Government. He grew up and still lives in the San Fernando Valley, about which he remains immensely proud (to the mystification of his friends and colleagues). After graduating from Yale Law School, and while clerking for a federal appeals court judge in Boston, he decided to return to Los Angeles shortly after the January 1994 Northridge earthquake, reasoning that he would gladly risk tremors in order to avoid the average New England wind chill temperature of negative 55 degrees. Professor Zasloff has a keen interest in world politics; he holds a PhD in the history of American foreign policy from Harvard and an M.Phil. in International Relations from Cambridge University. Much of his recent work concerns the influence of lawyers and legalism in US external relations, and has published articles on these subjects in the New York University Law Review and the Yale Law Journal. More generally, his recent interests focus on the response of public institutions to social problems, and the role of ideology in framing policy responses. Professor Zasloff has long been active in state and local politics and policy. He recently co-authored an article discussing the relationship of Proposition 13 (California's landmark tax limitation initiative) and school finance reform, and served for several years as a senior policy advisor to the Speaker of California Assembly. His practice background reflects these interests: for two years, he represented welfare recipients attempting to obtain child care benefits and microbusinesses in low income areas. He then practiced for two more years at one of Los Angeles' leading public interest environmental and land use firms, challenging poorly planned development and working to expand the network of the city's urban park system. He currently serves as a member of the boards of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy (a state agency charged with purchasing and protecting open space), the Los Angeles Center for Law and Justice (the leading legal service firm for low-income clients in east Los Angeles), and Friends of Israel's Environment. Professor Zasloff's other major activity consists in explaining the Triangle Offense to his very patient wife, Kathy.