[Ed. – Heretics! Apostates! Burn them at the stake.]
For years, mentions of Earth Day have sprung up each April from members of both parties. In April 2010, Democrats spoke of Earth Day over 150 times, mostly in commemoration of its 40th anniversary. But no Republican has uttered the words “Earth Day” on the House or Senate floor since 2010.
The last to do so was Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, in support of expanding nuclear-power generation. “Forty years ago, at the time of the first Earth Day, Americans became deeply worried about air and water pollution and a population explosion that threatened to overrun the planet’s resources,” reads Alexander’s speech. “Nuclear power was seen as a savior to these environmental dilemmas.” Eight months later, the meltdown of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in densely populated, nuclear-dependent Japan would set off a new wave of environmental dilemmas.
What explains the apparent Republican aversion to talking about Earth Day, and Democrats’ eagerness to do so? For one thing, Earth Day was founded 44 years ago by a Democratic senator, Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin. Another reason is the increasing polarization of Congress. As recently as 2000, Republican Rep. Benjamin Gilman of New York took to the House floor to say, “From combating
global climate change to protecting threatened species to providing clean water, we have a duty to act locally and globally to protect the environment for our present and future generations.” Congressional Republicans like Gilman were rare in the 1990s, but they are seemingly extinct today, as over 40 years of vote scores from the League of Conservation Voters shows.