As I mentioned last week in my blog Uneasy Riders, one of the most destructive aspects of the House spending bill for the rest of this year (H.R. 1) is that it contains 19 anti-environmental riders. The Senate is scheduled to vote on the bill tomorrow, March 8. The list of anti-environmental riders compiled by NRDC is here. Note, these riders do not change the amount of federal spending by one cent; they just block public protections that are otherwise required by law.
Anti-Environmental Riders in H.R. 1
Section 1746 would prevent the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from proposing, implementing or enforcing any regulations on stationary sources of greenhouse gas emissions because of concerns about climate change.
An amendment offered by Rep. Carter (R-TX), and passed 250-177, would prevent EPA from limiting toxic emissions from cement plants. The amendment would block the EPA's efforts to keep 16,000 pounds of mercury a year out of the air.
An amendment offered by Rep. Young (R-AK), and passed 243-185, would block EPA from fully applying the Clean Air Act to oil drilling activities in Alaska. The EPA's Environmental Appeals Board recently ruled that a permit issued for Shell Oil to drill in the Arctic did not comply with the Clean Air Act. This amendment would prevent the Board from taking any similar actions for the rest of the fiscal year.
Section 1475(a) would block implementation of protections under the Endangered Species Act for imperiled fish in the San Francisco Bay-Delta ecosystem, including winter run Chinook salmon, spring run Chinook salmon, steelhead, green sturgeon and delta smelt. This measure is designed to increase the delivery of water subsidized by federal taxpayers, at the expense of California cities, other farmers, the health of the San Francisco Bay-Delta, and especially the California salmon fishing industry.
Section 1475(b) would block the restoration of California’s San Joaquin River. This restoration agreement was supported by environmentalists, fishermen, farmers, urban water agencies, the Bush Administration, California’s Republican governor and even former Congressman Richard Pombo. This rider would degrade water quality for millions of California residents and farmers, damage salmon restoration efforts, and reduce water supplies.
Section 1747 would halt EPA’s ongoing work to clarify which waters remain protected by the Clean Water Act in the wake of confusing court decisions. EPA estimates that roughly 117 million Americans get at least some drinking water from systems that rely on headwaters and other critical streams for all or part of their supply. Many of those streams are at risk of being denied Clean Water Act protections today.
An amendment offered by Rep. Jones (R-NC), and passed 259 – 159, would prohibit the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) from developing or approving new catch share programs to limit overfishing.
An amendment offered by Rep. McKinley (R-WV), and passed 240-182 , would effectively strip EPA of its authority under the Clean Water Act to prohibit or restrict certain discharges that would have an “unacceptable adverse effect” on water, fish or wildlife.
An amendment offered by Rep. McKinley (R-WV), and passed 239-183, would prevent EPA from establishing minimum standards for the disposal and handling of coal ash as a hazardous waste. Coal ash is a well-documented threat to human health and the environment, and due to largely unregulated dumping, poses a threat to our waterways and drinking water.
Section 1713 would direct the Secretary of the Interior to reinstate a 2009 rule delisting wolves under the Endangered Species Act within portions of the northern Rockies within 60 days of the bill’s enactment and insulates the action from judicial review. This provision would overturn a federal court decision and establish a dangerous precedent of legislatively delisting a species.
Section 1778 would block the reinstatement of a policy that allows the Department of the Interior to protect the wilderness qualities of lands pending a Congressional wilderness designation.
An amendment offered by Rep. Herger (R-CA), and passed 227 - 197, would stop implementation of the Forest Service’s Travel Management Rule, to develop a more efficient, more manageable system of roads through our national forests.
An amendment offered by Rep. Lummis (R- WY), and passed 232- 197, would make it harder to sue the government to enforce environmental laws. The amendment would block the government from paying the legal fees of individuals or citizen groups that successfully sue it. Since the amendment does not change the underlying law, it basically would require the government to default on its obligation to pay the fees.