House Republicans announced in January that they would end a program to place compostable cups, containers and utensils in the House-side mini-cafeteria, a direct shot at former Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s “Green the Capitol” initiative, which did away with styrofoam cups in 2007.
Representative Earl Blumenaur (D-OR) has written on his website that “the Republicans are wasting a small fortune that taxpayers would otherwise save in order to ‘ungreen’ the Capitol. By shutting down this money-saving program before it has been fully implemented, Republicans are imposing a ten-year cost of around $50 million on taxpayers.” Liberal media has been broadly outraged over who is supplying the new styrofoam cups to the Capitol: a former executive of Koch Industries. As pointed out over at Huffington Post however, House Republicans were not responsible for the decision of who supplied the styrofoam wares for the cafeteria, that choice was made by Restaurant Associates, the firm that manages the House cafeteria.
The foaming at the mouth of the environmental media will pass eventually, but it’s hard not to read the move by the GOP as potently symbolic. If part of their ‘cutbacks’ include rolling back green efforts instituted by their predecessors that save money at the same time that they save other things (like our health and the health of larger natural ecosystems), where will the energy be found to institute new efforts?