GOP senator warns of 'dangerous' move toward recyclable lunch trays

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John Barrasso is apparently very worried that Biden's infrastructure plan might help protect the planet.

Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) warned on Tuesday that President Joe Biden's $2.25 trillion American Jobs Plan contains a "dangerous" and "scary" provision to make schools greener. And, he warned, this might result in more recyclable lunch trays.

Appearing on Fox Business, Barrasso — who as chair of the Senate Republican Conference is the third highest-ranking GOP senator — explained that he does not like the infrastructure package and argued that climate-related infrastructure doesn't really count as infrastructure.

"One of the things that has really struck me, is they have $100 billion in this for a green school initiative," he complained, "and you dig into it and say so what are they going to do for $100 billion dollars?”

"They're going to remake the cafeteria so they serve green meals and that they get rid of paper products, and the trays that you get your food on, they need to be recyclable. This proposal, it's radical, extreme. It's dangerous. It's scary. In the past, you've reported on the Solyndra debacle in the Obama administration. This is going to be Solyndra on steroids," Barrasso added, referencing a solar energy company that went bankrupt in 2011 after receiving loan guarantees from the Department of Energy.

The green schools provisions are just a small part of Biden's infrastructure package. The plan also contains trillions in investments in priorities including roads, bridges, water systems, broadband, transit, clean energy, and human infrastructure like child care.

There is no evidence that recyclable lunch trays are dangerous. According to the environmental group Cafeteria Culture: "The chemical styrene, a major component of styrene foam (or polystyrene) food containers, has been categorized as a 'reasonably anticipated to be carcinogen' by the US Department of Health and Human Services. Styrene is toxic and polluting from start to ongoing." Several major cities, they note, have already eliminated foam lunch trays and replaced them with compostable ones.

But it has been a slow process. A 2012 Washington Post report noted that the effort to get schools to go foam-free has been in the works for years, but that cash-strapped school systems have not had the funds to switch. This bill could provide them with the funds needed to make that possible.

Barrasso's opposition to environmental protection is nothing new. According to the League of Conservation Voters, he voted in a pro-environment way 0% of the time in 2020 — and just 7% of the time since he was appointed to the Senate in 2007.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.