Another great week for the industries that have bought Congressman Ryan Zinke, as he voted to poison our water and, potentially, our bodies, in two separate measures this week.
Fresh off efforts to make sure that coal companies don’t even pay their fair share of taxes, Congressman Zinke voted this week to gut efforts to regulate coal ash, which, according to the MEIC, “has resulted in contamination of drinking water, toxic dust, and caused catastrophic failure of coal ash impoundments across the United States.”
For Zinke, it seems any effort to reasonably regulate the pollution generated by campaign contributors is tantamount to a “WAR ON COAL, not an effort to impose reasonable restrictions that protect drinking water and habitat. Zinke’s transformation in less than a decade from someone who claimed to believe that climate change was a critical threat to our national security to a gung-ho, burn-it-all advocate for coal isn’t hard to understand, once you follow the money trail.
Zinke followed up that vote with a vote to outlaw labeling food that has been genetically modified as such and followed up his vote with a press release deserving of the 2015 award for the Most Orwellian Doublespeak from a Montana Politician. His press release reads:
“Montanans have a right to know what is in the food they are eating and preparing for their families, which is exactly why I voted for the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act.”
In order to make sure that Montanans “ know what is in the food they are eating,” Representative Zinke voted for a bill that will outlaw telling them what is in the food they are eating. Even for the most inveterate liar in Montana politics today, that’s an astonishingly brazen claim.
While I certainly don’t claim to be an expert on the science, I think one could make the case that some of the fear about GMOs is definitely overstated, but passing a bill that prohibits informing people about the nature of the food they consume only makes me, and I assume others, more concerned about GMOs.
As the IR story notes, a strong majority of Americans want GMO labelling. Why don’t the ag conglomerates and Congress?
Perhaps the most egregious problem with Zinke’s vote is that it violates one of few remaining beliefs he’s been relatively consistent on: the idea that states are better positioned to make decisions for their people than the federal government. The bill Zinke voted for prohibits states from setting their own labelling guidelines. It seems Mr. Zinke would rather substitute the logic of bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. for the reasoning of people back home. Flip and flop.
As a final note, I’m certainly not a farmer, but someone might want to tell the agriculture industry that it probably isn’t the best PR to keep fighting to hide the details of what goes in our food from us. After the passage of “ag gag” laws that protect animal cruelty and mandating that regulators can’t inform consumers, a person might reasonably concluded that ag producers have something to hide, and that can’t encourage people to want to purchase their products.
In this case, two votes mark the measure of the man. Given the chance to protect consumer information and public health or corporate well-being, Congressman Zinke chose the latter.