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Updated 6/26/2015

This year the Big Polluter Agenda is advancing in both the House and the Senate, and it appears no environmental law is safe from the demands of corporate polluters and their cheerleaders in the Republican Party. Lacking any interest in protecting the health and the environment, the Republican leadership has decided instead to try to block or reverse the successful policies of the last 40 years and any further advance.

Facing public opposition to this agenda, they are instead launching sneak attacks on the bedrock environmental laws, by attaching riders onto the bills that keep the federal government funded and operating. These riders would do astonishing harm to our health, wildlife, the environment and pursuit of clean energy -- if ever enacted into law.

For example, they would: Encourage the government to buy dirty fuels; block the nation from curbing climate change; increase exposure to lead paint; impede clean energy advances; deter deployment of solar panels; sideline energy-saving light bulbs; allow continued pollution of streams from coal mining and mountaintop removal; and even stop the Department of Defense -- one of America's biggest energy consumers -- from trimming its energy use. Worse, Republican leaders have learned little after forcing a government shutdown last fall that Standard & Poor's says cost the nation $24 billion. They are again threatening damage to America's families, communities, and economy as they strive to reverse many years of progress.

Learn about anti-environmental budget riders approved in the last fiscal year.

These provisions are called "riders" because they ride along on legislation that is entirely unrelated to the rider. Riders that are typically tacked onto a spending bill, for example, would not change federal spending by one cent. Instead, riders are used to sneak through legislative changes that would be difficult to pass on their own in open congressional debate. Riders often result in the measures getting less scrutiny and enable their sponsors to avoid responsibility for pushing them. And they can be harder to veto because of all the unrelated items surrounding them; in terms of strategy, it's the legislative equivalent of hiding terrorists in civilian neighborhoods.

These are the riders that have been added so far to the spending bills for fiscal year 2016, which begins Oct. 1.

Clean Air & Climate Change

A rider in the House Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 428) offered by Rep. Calvert (R-CA) would block EPA from limiting carbon pollution, blocking EPA from finalizing the first-ever carbon pollution standards for new and existing fossil fuel power plants. The Senate Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 417) goes even further by permanently preventing EPA from enforcing limitations on carbon pollution from fossil fuel fired power plants.

A rider in the House Interior and Environment appropriation bill (Sec. 437) offered by Rep. Calvert (R-CA) would block any consideration of the costs of carbon pollution on the rest of the world. This would bar the government from assessing and weighing the full costs of extreme weather or other climate impacts caused by our pollution, and the full benefits of any actions to improve energy efficiency or clean up carbon pollution. We want Europe and China to be responsible for the harms their emissions impose, so it's only right for us to consider the effects of our carbon pollution on others. A similar version was added to the committee report for the House Energy and Water appropriation (Committee Report, p.88) by Rep. Simpson (R-ID) and to the Senate Energy and Water appropriation (Committee Report, p.68) by Sen. Alexander (R-TN).

A rider in the House Interior and Environment appropriation (p.73) offered by Rep. Calvert (R-CA) would treat all biomass burned for electricity production to be considered to have zero carbon pollution despite the fact that emissions from wood biomass are often higher than those from coal. This language threatens the long term health of forests by encouraging the burning of trees to generate electricity, and worsens climate change by pretending climate-changing emissions don't exist. The Senate Interior and Environment Appropriation (pg. 84) contains a similar provision.

A rider in the House Commerce, Justice, and Science appropriation (Sec. 554) offered by Rep. Perry (R-PA) would block any implementation or consideration of the National Climate Assessment, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, and the social cost of carbon.

A rider in the House State and Foreign Operations appropriation (Sec. 7080) offered by Rep. Granger (R-TX) would reverse the President's policy of not backing funding for most new overseas coal plants. A similar version of this was also added to the House Financial Services and General Government appropriation (Sec. 133) by Rep. Crenshaw (R-FL).

A provision in the House Financial Services and General Government appropriation (Sec. 621) offered by Rep. Crenshaw (R-FL) would prohibit paying a salary to the Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change.

A rider in the House Defense appropriation (Sec. 8128) offered by Rep. Frelinghuysen (R-NJ) would waive section 526 of the Energy Independence Security Act, which prevents the government from purchasing alternative fuels (such as liquids produced from coal) that emit more carbon pollution than conventional fuels do.

A rider in the House Energy and Water appropriation (Sec. 514) offered by Rep. Abraham (R- FL) would block implementation of updated federal flood protection standards that offer an improved margin of safety and call for agencies to evaluate how sea level rise and other climate impacts increase future flood risk. A similar provision is included in the House Financial Services Appropriations (Sec. 745), and the Senate Energy and Water appropriation (Sec. 503).

A provision in the House Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 416) offered by Rep. Calvert (R-CA) would require the President to submit a report to the House and Senate appropriations committees on "all Federal agency funding, domestic and international, for...programs, projects and activities in fiscal year 2015 and 2016" on climate change. This report would facilitate attempts to cut all climate change funding in future appropriations bills.

A rider in the House Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 417) offered by Rep. Calvert (R-CA) would permanently prevent the EPA from limiting pollution from livestock production under the Clean Air Act. The Senate Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 418) contains a similar provision.

A rider in the House Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 418) offered by Rep. Calvert (R-CA) would permanently prevent the EPA from requiring the reporting of greenhouse gas emissions from manure management systems.

A rider in the House Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 435) offered by Rep. Calvert (R-CA) would block EPA's ability to set standards curtailing use of super-polluting hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerants and foam blowing agents. These pollutants are known to harm the ozone layer and are a potent greenhouse gases with thousands of times the impact on climate change than carbon dioxide.

A rider in the House Energy and Water appropriation (Sec. 522) offered by Rep. Rothfus (R-PA) would prevent the Department of Energy from using life-cycle greenhouse gas emission analysis when determining the public interest of energy exports. This is intended to expand exports by understating the environmental impacts.

A rider in the House Energy and Water appropriation (Sec. 523) offered by Rep. Gosar (R-AZ) would block work on the Department of Energy's Climate Model Development and Validation Program.

A rider in the House Interior and Environment appropriation offered by Rep. Jenkins (R-WV) for the first time uses a political rider to block Americans’ right to safe air. It would halt EPA’s work delivering healthy air to all Americans until 85% of the nation meets outdated health standards that science has shown to be insufficient to protect our nation’s health. In so doing, the rider would hold the health of all Americans hostage until urban and heavily industrialized areas meet outdated standards. A similar rider in the Senate bill (Sec. 424) would permanently block these air quality protections.

The Senate Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 432) would prevent federal agencies from considering greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) or climate change in decisions made under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). NEPA requires federal agencies to consider vital environmental factors before making major project decisions. Excluding greenhouse gas emissions promotes uninformed decisions, risks long term environmental harm, and encourages projects that lack climate resiliency.

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Clean Energy/Energy Efficiency

A provision in the House Transportation appropriation (Sec. 192) offered by Rep. Diaz-Balart (R-FL) would block work on the California High-Speed Rail Program.

A provision in House Energy and Water appropriation (Sec. 512) offered by Rep. Stivers (R-OH) would prevent the Department of Energy from providing any funds to the Cape Wind Project off the coast of Massachusetts.

A rider in the House Energy and Water appropriation (Sec. 504) offered by Rep. Simpson (R-ID) would prevent the government from shutting down the proposed nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain in Nevada.

A rider in the House Energy and Water appropriation (Sec. 513) offered by Rep. Burgess (R-TX) would block enforcement of the standard requiring light bulbs to be more efficient.

A rider in House Energy and Water appropriation (Sec. 510) offered by Rep. Dent (R-PA) would prevent the Department of Energy from finalizing or enforcing energy efficiency standards for ceiling fans and ceiling fan light kits.

A rider in House Energy and Water appropriation (Sec. 519) offered by Rep. Blackburn (R-TN) would prevent the Department of Energy from finalizing important and much delayed energy efficiency standards for residential natural gas furnaces.

A rider in the House Transportation appropriation (Sec. 232) offered by Rep. Diaz-Balart (R-FL) would block the implementation of Federal energy efficiency requirements in HUD-assisted housing.

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Clean Water

A rider in the House Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 422) offered by Rep. Calvert (R-CA) would permanently prohibit EPA from clarifying which streams and wetlands are protected by the Clean Water Act. Blocking EPA's updated Clean Water Rule would threaten those waters, which help supply one in three Americans' drinking water and trap flood water. Identical language appears in the Energy and Water appropriation (Sec. 105) from Rep. Simpson (R-ID), since EPA and the Army Corps jointly enforce aspects of the Clean Water Act. The Senate Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 421) would also permanently prohibit EPA from implementing the Clean Water Rule.

A rider in the House Energy and Water appropriation (Sec. 104) offered by Rep. Simpson (R-ID) would permanently prevent the Army Corps of Engineers from updating the definition of "fill material" or "discharge of fill material," allowing the mining industry to continue dumping toxic waste from mountaintop removal activities into mountain streams. This rider was also included in the Senate Energy and Water appropriation (Sec. 104) and in the House Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 429), targeting the EPA instead.

A rider in the House Energy and Water appropriation (Sec. 106) offered by Rep. Simpson (R-ID) would prohibit requiring a permit for certain activities surrounding dredge and fill materials that the Clean Water Act already exempts. There has been confusion about whether it would have implications beyond that, and thus including this provision in the bill is counterproductive to proper implementation of the Clean Water Act.

A rider in the House Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 423) offered by Rep. Calvert (R-CA) would block the Department of Interior (DOI) from developing or implementing safeguards designed to protect streams from pollution from surface coal mining.

A rider in the House Energy and Water appropriation (Sec. 525) offered by Rep. LaMalfa (R-CA) would prevent the Army Corps of Engineers and the Environmental Protection Agency from enforcing a provision of existing clean water requirements meant to ensure appropriate oversight of discharges of dredged or fill material consistent with the Clean Water Act. This requirement -– which sensibly requires operations to be established in order to qualify for an exemption for "normal farming, silviculture, and ranching activities" -- was issued during the Reagan administration.

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Lands

A provision in the House Interior and Environment appropriation (p. 16) offered by Rep. Calvert (R-CA) would severely cripple the Department of Interior and the U.S. Forest Service from being able to use the Land and Water Conservation Fund to acquire lands and waters in order to conserve critical habitat and expand recreation.

A rider in the House Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 111) offered by Rep. Calvert (R-CA) would permanently make it more difficult for citizens to challenge Bureau of Land Management land use decisions in the courts.

A rider in the House Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 112) offered by Rep. Calvert (R-CA) would block implementation of the "Wild Lands" initiative unveiled by then-Interior Secretary Salazar in 2010 that would ensure that lands with wilderness characteristics remain unspoiled.

A rider in the House Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 407) offered by Rep. Calvert (R-CA) would allow the Secretary of Agriculture to rely on outdated forest plans, ignoring the reality that national forests are not being managed sustainably, nor taking into account additional considerations such as the increasing impacts from climate change.

A rider in the House Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 409) offered by Rep. Calvert (R-CA) would prohibit the use of eminent domain deemed necessary to support federal lands management without approval by the Appropriations committee, with the exception of federal assistance to Florida for Everglades restoration.

A rider in the House Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 432) offered by Rep. Calvert (R-CA) would exempt livestock grazing permit renewals from environmental review indefinitely.

A rider in the House Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 424) offered by Rep. Calvert (R-CA) would forbid federal land management agencies from placing reasonable limits via the normal land use planning process if such a decision might limit fishing, shooting activities for hunting, or recreational shooting if those activities were allowed as of January 1, 2013.

A rider in the House Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 433) offered by Rep. Calvert (R-CA) would permanently exempt from environmental review livestock grazing on allotments that are assigned to replace ones made unusable by drought or wildfire.

A rider in the House Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 434) offered by Rep. Calvert (R-CA) would permanently prevent the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management from acquiring and managing water rights in order to protect fish and wildlife habitat, which would limit federal managers' efforts to safeguard land and water resources from such impactful activities as hydraulic fracturing on public lands to protect water.

A rider in the House Interior and Environment appropriation offered by Rep. Cole (R-OK) would block the Department of the Interior from administering, implementing or enforcing the new fracking rule recently issued by the Bureau of Land Management for all federal oil and gas wells nationwide. A similar provision in the Senate Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 114) attempts to do the same. These riders would limit federal agency efforts to reduce the risks to groundwater from contamination by fracking, chemicals, and toxic waste.

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Oceans

A rider in the House Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 425) offered by Rep. Calvert (R-CA) would prevent implementation of the National Ocean Policy, a landmark policy designed to safeguard our oceans and coasts. Similar riders to attack the National Ocean Policy were also added to the House Commerce, Justice, and Science appropriation bill (Sec. 570) by Rep. Flores (R-TX) and to the House Energy and Water appropriation bill (Sec. 505) by Rep. Simpson (R-ID).

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Toxics

A rider in the House Interior and Environment appropriation (pp. 98-99) offered by Rep. Calvert (R-CA) would prevent the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry from adding new toxic substances to the list of waste materials considered hazardous.

A rider in the House Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 421) offered by Rep. Calvert (R-CA) would permanently prevent the EPA from regulating toxic lead in ammunition, ammunition components, or fishing tackle under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) or any other law. The Senate Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 425) would also permanently prevent EPA from regulating lead in ammunition, ammunition components, and fishing tackle.

A rider in the House Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 426) offered by Rep. Calvert (R-CA) would block EPA from enforcing rules to limit exposure to lead paint.

A rider in the House Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 427) offered by Rep. Calvert (R-CA) would block EPA from requiring industries with high probability of causing catastrophic damage by releasing toxics into the environment from carrying insurance to cover environmental damages they cause.

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Wildlife

A rider in the House Commerce, Justice and Science appropriation (Sec. 564) offered by Rep. Duncan (R-SC) would essentially repeal the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, our country's premiere law for bird conservation by prohibiting civil and criminal enforcement.

A rider in the House Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 120) offered by Rep. Calvert (R-CA) would block past, current, and future efforts on the part of the Administration to restrict the trade of illegal elephant ivory.

A rider in the House Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 117) offered by Rep. Calvert (R-CA) would permanently bar the Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) from engaging on efforts that might result in the potential listing of the greater sage grouse under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The Senate Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 119) would also permanently prevent efforts that might result in the ESA listing of the greater sage grouse and Gunnison sage grouse.

The Senate Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 128) would prevent implementation of enforcement of a threatened species listing for the lesser prairie chicken under the Endangered Species Act.

A provision was included in the House National Defense Authorization Act (Sec. 2862) that would stop the Department of Interior (DOI) from considering whether to list sage-grouse under the ESA for a period of ten years, allow states to block DOI conservation recovery plans for the species, and turn over federal land management decisions to the states for a host of activities including oil and gas drilling and livestock grazing.

A rider in the House National Defense Authorization Act (Sec. 2865) offered by Rep. Lucas (R-OK) would delist the imperiled Lesser Prairie-Chicken from the Endangered Species Act and prevent it from receiving protection under the Act for at least six years.

A rider in the House National Defense Authorization Act (Sec. 312) by Rep. Thornberry (R-TX) would weaken both Endangered Species Act (ESA) and the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) protections for threatened sea otters off two Southern California islands by unnecessarily giving the U.S. Navy broad exemptions to both statutes, allowing their activities to potentially kill, injure, and otherwise harm the animals. A similar provision was included in the Senate National Defense Authorization Act.

A rider in the House National Defense Authorization Act (Sec. 2866) offered by Rep. Lucas (R-OK) would immediately and permanently remove the American burying beetle from protection under the Endangered Species Act and prevent it from receiving any protections in the future.

A rider in the House Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 121) offered would delist gray wolves in the Great Lakes and Wyoming from the Endangered Species Act and prevent judicial review of this action. The Senate Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 110) contains identical language.

A rider in the House Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 122) offered by Rep. Calvert (R-CA) appears to expand and statutorily codify an already problematic U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service special rule for the northern long-eared bat. The rule eliminates vital legal protections that might otherwise help the species survive and establishes "conservation measures" that are too limited geographically and temporally.

A rider in the House Commerce, Justice and Science appropriation (Sec. 573) offered by Rep. Denham (R-CA) would undermine salmon and steelhead recovery by blocking implementation of recovery plans unless those plans address predation by non-native species.

A rider in the House Energy and Water appropriation (Sec. 526) offered by Rep. LaMalfa (R-CA) would block funding for water deliveries to the Trinity River and Klamath River to help sustain commercially valuable West Coast salmon populations. Low flow conditions in the lower Klamath River have triggered outbreaks of disease that killed approximately 80,000 adult Chinook salmon in 2002.

A rider in the House Commerce, Justice and Science appropriation (Sec. 556) offered by Rep. Scott (R-GA) would overturn and undermine the work of the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council, a stakeholder driven process, in protecting the health of important fisheries, like red snapper, in the Gulf of Mexico.

A rider in the House Energy and Water appropriation (Sec. 524) offered by Rep. McClintock (R-CA) would block funding for programs in the California Central Valley Project which help avoid fish kills and risk of extinction from lack of water. These protections are in the public interest and have broad public support.

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last revised 6/26/2015

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