Turnabout: Republican Says Democrat Harms Environment

Published September 1, 1999

While it is common for Democrats to accuse Republicans of actions that cause pollution and otherwise harm the environment, it rarely happens the other way around.

But in a recent interview with Environment News, Representative Chris Shays (R-Connecticut) vehemently accused colleague John Dingell (D-Michigan) of promoting air pollution.

“John Dingell doesn’t care about clean air,” Shays stated emphatically three times during the wide-ranging interview, which covered topics from land use to air pollution, “because it doesn’t affect his area.” Shays was referring to alleged pollution of air in Northeast states by coal-fired power plants in Midwestern states such as Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin.

Shays contends the powerful Michigan Democrat is in a position to promote EPA’s effort to place restrictions on Midwest plants in order to improve Eastern air, but refuses to do so.

Dingell has opposed EPA’s tougher air quality standards, recently set aside by a federal court that determined they represented an unconstitutional delegation of the legislature’s authority to make laws. Shays disagreed with that decision, as well as with the notion that individual states should be permitted to make decisions on environment matters.

Where the environment is concerned, Shays said, it is the responsibility of a “higher government” to step in.