Congress at War Over Earth-Friendly Forks

Republicans wants an end to compostable utensils and a return to styrofoam

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The era of green government is over, at least on Capitol Hill. Republicans have killed Democrats' initiative to have Congressional cafeteria food served on compostable dinnerware and utensils. Styrofoam cups and plastic forks are back. Liberals are not pleased.

Oregon Rep. Earl Blumenauer says the GOP is taking Congress backward with forks that will live for centuries in a landfill. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi's spokesman said the move "embodies the new GOP majority," The New York Times' Jennifer Steinhauer reports, noting that the fight features the same ideological divides as battles over environmental regulation, budget cuts, and social issues. But Republicans counter that the forks just didn't work. “They could not penetrate lettuce,” said the spokesman for Rep. Dan Lungren. The green spoons melted in hot soup and the knives couldn't take on a hearty salad.

Lungren told Talking Points Memo's Benjy Sarlin the fancy greenware was "unusable." But underneath that complaint lies a deeper culture clash. Lungren says the flimsy forks showed "the definition of ideological elitism--to say you know better how people ought to live their lives and will impose things on them even if they do not work."

The program cost $475,000 a year. Republicans say they'll start their own green programs, like putting reusable dinnerware in the Rayburn Office Building. House trash will go to an incinerator that creates energy, instead of a landfill. Nevertheless, for Democrats, the symbolism stings.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.