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How the Shut Down is Harming our Environment and Economy

04 Oct 2013  |   Hannah Blatt

Tags: General Environment

As another day passes and the United States government remains shut down, people all across the country are feeling the effects, from our National Parks and Monuments being closed to public servants at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other agencies who are unable to do their job protecting the air we breathe and the water we drink and conducting scientific research. 

The lives of millions of Americans are being disrupted as people are forced to cancel weddings and visits to America’s public lands, according to a Think Progress article. With over 400 National Parks and Monuments closed, Americans cannot visit historic sites like the Statue of Liberty, take in the beauty of the Grand Canyon, or celebrate Yosemite National Park’s 123rd anniversary that occurred this past Tuesday. 

These closures come with an economic cost as well, as local communities and states lose tourism and tax revenue. According the National Park Service, local communities will lose approximately $76 million per day, and the states that will be hit the hardest are California, the District of Columbia, Arizona, North Carolina, Utah, Florida, Tennessee, Wyoming, Virginia and Massachusetts. Click here to see the breakdown of how the closure of these National Parks and Monuments will affect each state.

The shut down also prevents federal agencies like the EPA and the Department of Energy (DOE) from doing their jobs. According to EPA Administrator, Gina McCarthy, the EPA has “essentially shut down,” as 96 percent of the agency’s staff is prevented from going to work. This hinders the EPA’s ability to protect public health and address climate change. Also, the DOE has halted energy research, as 69 percent of their employees have been sent home. 

It’s past time to end this reckless and harmful government shut down. That could happen today if only House Speaker John Boehner would simply allow a clean up-or-down vote on a budget—also known as a clean Continuing Resolution—instead of kowtowing to extreme members of his party committed on destroying the Affordable Care Act as ransom for re-opening the government. While he’s at it, Speaker Boehner should also buck his Tea Party members and allow a vote to raise our nation’s debt ceiling with no strings attached, so we avoid an economic shut down that would occur if our government hits the October 17 debt ceiling deadline, thus risking a credit downgrade of the United States that could have far-reaching economic impacts. 

It’s time to end this shutdown. There’s too much at stake for the House of Representatives to keep standing in the way of re-opening our government or risking our nation’s economic standing in the world.  Budgets are about priorities, and it’s time for Republican leaders in Congress to make public lands and clean air and water a national priority.   

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