Shutting Down the Government for the Polluters

So much for cutting spending.    Now it’s all about cutting a break for big polluters.

The “pro-pollution” crowd is pressuring U.S. House budget negotiators to let the government shutdown if President Obama and Majority Leader Reid don’t agree to language that would cripple our ability to protect the health of Americans from dangerous air pollution.

As NRDC’s Scott Slesinger says:

“By attaching irrelevant anti-environmental riders to a spending bill that must pass to keep the government operating beyond Friday night, these politicians are showing they’re willing to hold the country hostage just to advance their narrow political agenda, with shameful disregard for the health, the economy and the people of America.” 

Make no mistake about it:  The budget fight is no longer about spending cuts;  the “riders” in the spending deal would not change the budget, they would just prohibit the EPA from using funds for specific activities.

What this fight is now about is fulfilling a wish-list for polluters who want to be able to dump whatever they want into our air. The same “pro-pollution” crowd just passed a bill in the House that would let them dump unlimited amounts of carbon pollution into the air, but that law won’t go anywhere since the Senate just rejected a similar measure yesterday.

Rather than just, say, let the system work as intended, Republican leaders are now trying to use the pressure of a looming government shut-down as leverage to force their favors for polluters into law.

Your tax refund check? Your visit to a national park?  Small business loans? New home mortgage loans?  When the government shuts down, you will see how your priorities stack up with those of the buddies of polluters.

Plain and simple, the folks who are carrying the (dirty) water for polluters are putting their extremist agenda ahead of American children, families and seniors – all of whom will be at greater risk of more heart attacks, asthma attacks, cancer and other air pollution related illnesses if the EPA is blocked from making updates to Clean Air Standards on everything from arsenic to mercury to carbon pollution.

That’s why we are so pleased to hear unequivocal opposition to budget riders from Senate leadership and the White House. Today Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid issued a statement saying:

No one can realistically think that we will walk out of a room and suddenly agree to roll back women’s access to health care or protections for the environment.  We will not solve in one night a disagreement this country has been having for four decades.  That’s not realistic.

And the White House re-affirmed with a statement this week that the President would veto legislation that undid clean air or clean water protections.

I say:  Give ‘em hell, Harry!  Polluters and those who do their bidding deserve nothing less.

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