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Armchair-Quarterbacking Jim Inhofe’s Power Play

With control of the Senate up for grabs this fall and little else to do while their bosses furiously campaign to keep collecting paychecks, congressional staffers have taken to their own type of fantasy role-playing: plotting out the new boss’s next move.  

A bemused political observer noted, for instance, that Democratic support staff have begun speculating as to how Sen. James M. Inhofe, R-Okla., might shake up the establishment should the GOP reclaim the majority come November.  

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Should the current power structure flip-flop, sitting Environment and Public Works Chairwoman Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., would be obliged to hand over the gavel to Inhofe.  

“There’s a sort of game going on among the Hill staff to decide how he would rename the [Environmental Protection Agency]  building, given the chance: The George W Bush EPA building, The Koch Brothers EPA building, etc.,” our source relayed via email.  

Either scenario would, naturally, enrage longstanding environmental stewards. During his presidency, Bush balked at embracing the climate change goals outlined by the Kyoto Protocol, proposed drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, thinned the ranks of animals protected by the Endangered Species Act and paved the way for snowmobilers to carve their way through Yellowstone National Park.  

“He has undone decades, if not a century of progress on the environment,” Josh Dorner, then-spokesman for the Sierra Club told The Guardian in early 2009. (He migrated to the Hill this spring, to head up communications for Michigan Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow.)  

PolitiFact, an ongoing fact-checking project conducted by the Tampa Bay Times, this past April dissected a statement Charles Koch made regarding the EPA’s stance on the family businesses.  

“Koch employees have earned well over 700 awards for environmental, health and safety excellence since 2009, many of them from the Environmental Protection Agency and Occupational Safety and Health Administration,” PolitiFact noted that Koch wrote in the Wall Street Journal. “EPA officials have commended us for our ‘commitment to a cleaner environment’ and called us ‘a model for other companies.’”  

The messaging watchdogs then systematically weighed the Kochs’ cumulative track record against their rhetoric, chronicling a half dozen instances wherein the industrious duo had been successfully prosecuted, fined or penalized for repeatedly failing Mother Earth.  

“Since the late 1990s, Koch companies have repeatedly found themselves in the crosshairs of the EPA for various environmental violations. On numerous occasions they were forced to pay hefty fines and settlements and change their practices as a result of EPA and Justice Department action,” PolitiFact found .  

The Kochs’ money, presumably, is perfectly green.  

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