77 What does that number mean to you? Right now, it’s the big bad number for the environment. Did you know that, in addition to working on raising the debt ceiling, Congress is also working on next fiscal year’s budget? The House of Representatives is debating and voting on appropriations bills, and here’s where the scary number 77 comes in: Did you know that 77 different anti-environment riders and amendments have been proposed for the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill?
That’s right – 77 different attempts have been made to cut funding for our environment! These riders range from prohibiting any more species from being added to the Endangered Species list, to blocking President Obama’s National Ocean Policy implementation, to a number of other measures which could help our environment and our economy. The following is from the website for Earthjustice, and it details all the crazy riders which are being proposed right now.
You might be asking, “How can I help? What am I supposed to do about this?” The answer is simple: call your member of Congress, or send an email now. Help save the environment, before it’s too late!
Congress V. The Environment: The 2012 Appropriations Rider Tracker
As of July 27, 77 amendments and anti-environmental riders have been filed, and House leaders have said they are expecting about 200 total amendments to be filed throughout the bill’s floor debate. Before the bill came to the House floor on Monday morning, it already had 38 anti-environmental policy riders unrelated to spending that attack our clean air, clean water, endangered species, and iconic places.
Among the original 38 riders in the bill are provisions to:
- Ban the EPA from all work to reduce the climate change pollution of power plants, refineries, and other major polluters for one full year, and allow major new sources of carbon pollution to be built without any controls.
- Mandate that California’s National Forests allow off-road vehicles in places where they cause harm and raise significant safety concerns.
- Leave millions of acres of wilderness-quality lands open to drilling, mining, and off-road vehicles.
- Prohibit the EPA from ensuring that hardrock mining companies – not American taxpayers – are responsible for footing the bills of costly environmental cleanups at their mine sites. This rider derails a rulemaking that Earthjustice litigation compelled.
- As well as a host of other riders that don’t reduce spending but instead attack our protections for drinking water sources, prohibit the EPA from regulating coal ash as a hazardous waste, allow power plants and cement kilns to poison pregnant women and young children, destroy wetlands that protect communities from flooding, allow sewage to flow into our rivers and lakes, and expose more Americans to dangerous pesticides.
- Read more details on the range of riders.
Earthjustice will be highlighting and tracking many of these extreme anti-environment, anti-science, and anti-health riders on this webpage. We will update this page as new amendments are filed, offered, and voted upon.
Among today’s (Friday, July 29, 2011) amendments filed are:
- The Snub to Environmental Justice Rider: We anticipate that Rep. Blackburn will offer an amendment to prohibit funding of the EPA’s environmental justice program. This program helps ensure that communities of color and lower income communities disproportionately impacted by pollution are treated fairly and are meaningfully involved in the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies.
- Chumming the Chesapeake Bay with Pollution: Rep. Robert Goodlatte (R-VA) is expected to offer an amendment that is intended to block implementation of pollution limits needed to clean up the Chesapeake Bay. If the same as a previous amendment he offered, it would prohibit EPA from enforcing a key cleanup measure – known as Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) – if Chesapeake Bay states fail to meet their pollution control commitments. The result could seriously undermine the restoration of this national treasure and important fishery.
Among today’s (Thursday, July 28, 2011) amendments filed are:
- The Texas Tells Its Neighbors “Eat Our Soot and Smog!” Rider: Amendment No. 75 by Rep. John Carter (R-TX): This rider audaciously aims to exempt Texas from the court-ordered Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, just finalized by the EPA on July 6, 2011, to limit deadly soot and smog-forming air pollution from power plants in 27 states. The Cross-State Air Pollution Rule will protect Texas’ millions of neighbors who are exposed to that state’s air pollution, and prevent tens of thousands of premature deaths, heart attacks, cases of acute bronchitis; hundreds of thousands of cases of aggravated asthma; and 1.8 million sick days a year beginning in 2014. For Texas’s neighboring states, all that translates into tens of billions of dollars worth of annual health benefits. This is rider is just plain lousy-neighbor behavior.
- Wiping Out the Lesser Prairie Chicken Rider: Amendment No. 78 by Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-TX): This rider would block Endangered Species Act listing of the lesser prairie chicken, an iconic grouse species that plays a critical role in grassland ecosystems but now occupies less than 15 percent of its historic range. This bird has been on the Endangered Species Act waiting list for 13 years despite desperately needing protection.
Among today’s (Wednesday, July 27, 2011) amendments filed are:
- The Killing Our Oceans Rider: Amendment by Rep. Bill Flores (R-TX): Last year, following the recommendations of two bipartisan ocean commissions, President Obama established our National Ocean Policy to protect, maintain, and restore our ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes natural resources for present and future generations. Rep. Flores is proposing to block this government efficiency and return our country to the state of disorder that characterized business before this policy. It is backwards-looking, absent of logic, and will cost us greatly in many jobs and tourism dollars that depend on healthy oceans and coasts.
- The Sad End to Manatees Rider: Amendment No. 42 by Rep. Rich Nugent (R-FL): America’s endangered manatee, an extremely vulnerable species, is fighting desperately for survival in Florida. Florida developers are threatening with plans to build a marina and boating center near King’s Bay, one of the last safe havens for endangered manatees. Despite strong public support for the proposed refuge, House politicians now seem willing to do the developers’ bidding through this disappointing policy rider, which would block the proposed refuge and put the endangered manatees directly in harm’s way.
- Lawless Borders Rider: Amendment No. 55 by Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ): This amendment completely waives 23 federal laws for any border patrol activities on federal lands, including the Clean Water Act, The Bald Eagle Protection Act, The Coastal Zone Management Act, the Wilderness Act, and the American Indian Religous Freedom and the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act. This sweeping amendment would create a lawless zone in many National Parks, National Wildlife Refuges National Forests and National Seashores.
- Curtailing Federal Land Management Efficiency Riders:Amendments Nos. 60 and 82 by Rep. Scott Rigell (R-VA) and 63 by Rep. James Lankford (R-OK): The Rigell amendment prohibits acquisition of lands by the federal government without first selling an equal number of federally owned lands. The Lankford amendment is similar in requiring no net increase in federal land ownership. Both amendments tie the hands of land managers by making it harder improve management with the acquistion of inholdings and will keep managers from being able to take advantage of oportunities, such when bargain-priced parcels become available.
- The Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing Rider: Amendment No. 62 by Rep. James Lankford (R-OK). This amendment is a sneaky attempt to prevent the kinds of protections that Interior Secretary Salazar implemented when he withdrew a million acres of federal land adjacent to the Grand Canyon from new uranium mining. However, unlike the Grand Canyon rider (Sec. 445) this amendment applies to all National Park Service and Department of Interior lands, and the threats could be far more wide-ranging.
- The Bring On the Polluted Haze Rider: Amendment No. 61 filed by Rep. James Lankford (R-OK): This amendment guts the EPA regulations that protect our air visibility standards and would bring on widespread haze from a multitude of sources and impair our visibility in every direction over a large area.
- The Fish-Kill Rider: Amendment No. 64 filed by Rep. James Lankford (R-OK): This rider would prevent the more than 1,500 industrial facilities from having to implement fish saving measures in their cooling water intake structures. Power plants, pulp and paper makers, chemical manufacturers, petroleum refiners, and metal manufactures use such structures to pull large volumes of cooling water from our lakes, rivers, and estuaries, which suck in and kill large numbers of fish and shellfish, along with some larger marine species that get trapped against screens at the front of intake structures.
- The Petty ‘Let’s Stop EPA From Having Any New Office Space’ Rider:Amendment No. 70 filed by Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX): This rider hopes to make EPA staff “homeless” as it bans EPA from entering into any new contracts that would allow it to construct, purchase, or lease any facility, land, or space.
- King Coal Rider for Blowing Up Mountains: by Rep. David McKinley (R-WV): This rider seeks to stop the federal government from protecting the American public from the environmental destruction and pollution of mountaintop removal mining. Communities across Appalachia are facing severe environmental and health harms as a result of this devastating coal mining practice. Specifically, this amendment aims to take away the EPA’s authority to stop permits which allow unacceptable impacts on waters of the United States, including from coal mining practices.
- Dooming the Endangered Mexican Wolf Rider: by Rep. Steve Pearce (R-NM): This rider would prohibit funding for the recovery of the endangered Mexican wolf in southwestern states. In the U.S., only 50 Mexican wolves remain in the wild.
- Trample Our National Heritage & History Rider: by Rep Denny Rehberg (R-MT): This rider would prohibit presidents from creating National Monuments under current authority granted them by the Antiquities Act as it seeks to inject the partisan gridlock into the process.
- Threatening Salmon Restoration in the San Joaquin River: Amendment offered by Rep. Jeff Denham (R-CA): This rider would prohibit the federal government from spending any money to restore runs of salmon to the San Joaquin River in California. Although the San Joaquin once supported the biggest salmon run in California, these salmon were largely wiped out years ago by the construction of the Friant Dam, which stopped the river’s natural flow. A protracted lawsuit was settled with an agreement to re-water the river and bring the salmon back. Rep. Denham claims the river isn’t ready to receive the salmon even though plentiful rains this year have put more water in the river than it has seen for years.
Among today’s (Tuesday, July 26, 2011) amendments filed are:
- The Dirty Fuel Rider: Amendment No. 8 filed by Rep. Bill Flores (R-TX): This amendment seeks to limit funds to enforce a provision of law that prohibits the federal government from entering into contracts to purchase fuels that pollute more than conventional fuels. The current policy has broad support, including from the Department of Defense, which has opposed similar funding limitations.
- The Invisible National Parks Rider: Amendment No. 15 filed by Rep. Rick Berg (R-ND): Rep. Berg (R-ND) wants to perform a magic trick that would have made even the Great Houdini balk: make our national parks disappear. Berg’s amendment to prohibit funding for the EPA’s regional haze program would obscure jaw-dropping vistas and landscapes in special places across the country. To add insult to injury, that hazy pollution will also be bad for the lungs of the soon-to-be-dejected visitors who arrive only to find their long-awaited views wrapped in a brownish cloak of dirty air.
- The Factory Farm Filth Rider: Amendment No. 16 filed by Rep. Tom Latham (R-IA): This rider would ban the EPA from even studying the impacts of pollution from industrial livestock facilities (factory farms, or concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs)) on our waters. It would prohibit the EPA from collecting water pollution info from these huge sources of harmful pollution, which are known to jeopardize and degrade our drinking water supplies.
- The Welcome to Frackistan Rider: Amendment No. 25 filed by Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-TX): This amendment seeks to limit federal agency oversight of a controversial drilling process called hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. Agencies like the Department of the Interior and the Environmental Protection Agency are tasked with protecting our air, water, and public lands, and make sure that drilling is done safely, but instead, this amendment seeks to remove their expertise from the drilling process.
- The Riders for Repeating Tragic Oil Spills: Amendment No. 26 and No. 77 filed by Rep. Jeff Landry (R-LA): These amendments exempt companies engaged in the offshore oil drilling business from accountability or regulation. These ignorant riders spite everything we learned from the Deepwater Horizon disaster and everything the President’s National Oil Spill Commission told us about the culpability of contractors like Halliburton and Transocean in the Gulf spill. They weaken oversight of offshore drilling contractors and let them off the hook for any safety failures of their equipment – and they would prohibit government oversight of these players and block the federal government from ensuring that drilling contractors are meeting safety requirements and following the law, along with the primary holder of the drilling lease.
- The Pro-Flooding and Pro-Fire Rider: Amendment No. 33 filed by Rep. Austin Scott (R-GA): This year, the nation has experienced record floods, record droughts, and record fires. This irresponsible and wide-sweeping amendment blocks the Interior Department and the Forest Service from implementing its programs that prepare for the record-breaking floods, fires, and droughts to come due to climate change. This amendment also blocks all environment-related agencies from climate change research, science, and preparation. While the private sector is busy preparing and planning for climate change and extreme weather patterns, this amendment flies in the face of common sense and good planning by insisting that the government turn a blind eye to the costly changes and impacts facing our communities, lands, and economy. It will cost our country and economy gravely.
- The Justice Blocker Rider: Amendment No. 34 filed by Rep. Lee Terry (R-NE): This rider seeks to curtail citizens’ access to courts if the injured party has suffered non-economic losses, such as those seeking to enforce their Constitutional rights to religious freedom and free speech, or statutory rights to clean water and clean air.
- The Carbon Polluter Bail-Out Rider: Amendment No. 38 filed by Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS): This rider wipes out all carbon pollution reporting requirements under the Clean Air Act. It allows the nation’s biggest and worst climate change polluters to get out of even reporting their pollution, let alone being accountable for it.
- The Stop Clean Fuels Rider: Amendment No 40 filed by Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS): This rider gets polluting refineries, which already enjoy a host of regulatory loopholes and other flexibilities from pollution controls, out of requirements to produce cleaner forms of energy.
Earthjustice (http://earthjustice.org) is a non-profit public interest law firm dedicated to protecting the magnificent places, natural resources, and wildlife of this earth, and to defending the right of all people to a healthy environment.
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