Voting has begun on amendments to Senate Budget Committee Chair Patty Murray (D-WA)’s Fiscal Year 2014 Budget Resolution which recognizes that a healthy environment supports a healthy economy.
But as I mentioned in my last blog, some in Congress are dead-set on undermining the 21st Century vision the Murray budget puts in place by weighing it down with amendments worthy of a cut-and-paste from Big Polluters’ wish list.
Following up on the previous installment, below are new amendments that may see votes. The environmental and health community has been watching closely to make sure the public knows what’s at stake.
Sen. Ayotte #166: Senators should oppose
This amendment will reverse years of progress in restoring the productivity of our nation’s fisheries. Sustainable fisheries provide seafood to America’s dinner plate, public access for sportfishing enthusiasts, and long term economic health for fishermen. This would undermine the success of the bipartisan Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Management and Conservation (MSA) which has worked to rebuild US fish stocks and support healthy fisheries and coastal economics.
Sen. Sessions #204: Senators should oppose
This amendment would open up offshore drilling in inappropriate and sensitive areas, and includes revenue sharing. These coastal areas are sensitive ecosystems, and are not compatible with proposed off shore oil and gas drilling. The shores of these states are also huge economic engines, attracting millions of tourists, anglers, and other visitors each year. This amendment would risk robust coastal tourism, and the resulting economic benefits.
Sen. Cornyn #244: Senators should oppose
This amendment seeks to increase the risk of extinction for hundreds of imperiled plant and animal species, and to prevent citizens from enforcing the essential protections of the Endangered Species Act. This amendment could substantially reduce any funding the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has to protect new species under the Endangered Species Act until 2022. Thus this amendment could increase the risk of extinction for hundreds of imperiled plant and animal species. It should be opposed.
Sen. Hoeven #260: Senators should oppose
This amendment strikes a single line from Senator Murray’s deficit-neutral reserve fund to invest in clean energy and preserve the environment. The amendment would hamper Congress’ ability to address the impacts of climate change that are here and now and would block future action to protect Americans.
Sen. Blunt #261: Senators should oppose
This amendment seeks to stymie any new legislation that creates a carbon tax or fee. The amendment would damage chances of passing comprehensive tax reform by taking off the table one of the potential sources of revenue needed to achieve deficit-neutral tax reform.
Sen. Lautenberg #277: Senators should support
This amendment seeks to protect the public from toxic chemicals, including the health effects on children, pregnant women, workers, and other vulnerable subpopulations. The amendment also seeks to ensure the cleanup of sites contaminated with toxic pollution that threaten the health of local communities.
Sen. Inhofe #283, 359: Senators should oppose
These amendments propose indiscriminate funding cuts to block any agency from curbing the pollution that is driving the ever clearer dangers of climate change. The amendments risk leaving our families, our children, our communities, and future generations defenseless against ever more devastating climate change impacts. These radical amendments should be opposed.
Sen. Inhofe #284: Senators should oppose
This amendment would severely restrict our nation’s ability to prevent extinctions and recover endangered species. Plants and animals are often protected under the Endangered Species Act when states fail to properly conserve them. Yet, the amendment would put these species right back in the hands of the states. This is a flagrant loophole around our nation’s commitment to using the ESA as a backstop to extinction.
Sen. Heller #293: Senators should oppose
This amendment seeks to interfere with federal efforts that are currently designed to conserve sage-grouse and avoid the need to list the species under the Endangered Species Act.
Sen. Hoeven #320: Senators should oppose
This amendment proposes to significantly increase funds dedicated to the Department of Energy (DOE) to subsidize industry research into unconventional drilling and natural gas extraction. The fossil fuel already receives nearly $5 billion in annual subsidies. Increasing funding for a sector with an abysmal environmental track record is counterproductive and comes at the expense of cleaner renewable resources that are emerging and who benefit far more from investments into research.
Sen. Hoeven #321: Senators should oppose
This amendment would limit the BLM’s ability to manage our public lands for multiple uses by severely restricting regulations that will govern agency operations, processing permits and other responsibilities that the agency is obligated to accomplish by law. This amendment would essentially frustrate the BLM’s ability to deploy resources and comply with applicable legal requirements, thereby actually interfering with the many jobs dependent on our public lands.
Sen. Barrasso #322: Senators should oppose
This amendment seeks to undermine efforts by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers to protect clean water from pollution and outright destruction. The amendment targets the implementation of an administration clean water policy aimed to ensure enforcement against oil spills, waste discharges and wetlands destruction. It is vital to protect streams and wetlands from pollution and destruction. This amendment should be opposed.
Sen. Franken #354: Senators should support
This amendment would establish a fund to support tribal energy independence, economic development, and job creation through the development of renewable energy resources and energy efficiency on Indian land. Support this amendment.
Sen. Begich #341: Senators should support
This amendment seeks the labeling of genetically engineered fish, which will increase transparency and allow consumers to make informed choices. Support this amendment.
Sen. Inhofe #369, Sen. Murkowski #370, Sen. Murkowski #372: Senators should oppose
These amendments seek to establish a fund to promote new drilling and new statutes. New statues to promote drilling on public lands are unnecessary. In the last four years, the number of oil and gas rigs operating in the U.S. has tripled, and domestic production has increased for 8 straight years. An advanced energy trust fund should not be tied to new drilling or leasing. Oppose this amendment.
Sen. Murkowski #371: Senators should oppose
This amendment would invite drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, the National Petroleum Reserve Alaska and the Arctic Ocean. Legislation of this type would cause irreparable harm to our nation’s most pristine wilderness. Hastily-made decisions that expedite oil drilling could lead to permanently destructive consequences for the Arctic’s habitat and local communities. Furthermore, these are not policies that should be decided on a Senate Budget bill. Oppose this amendment
Sen. Paul #380: Senators should oppose
This amendment would encourage the repeal of the Clean Water Act for more than half of the streams and tens of millions acres of wetlands in the continental U.S. These critical waters provide protection against flooding, filter pollution, and serve as habitat for fish and wildlife. The amendment would seek to radically roll back protections and should be opposed.
Sen. Paul #382: Senators should oppose
This amendment seeks to drastically reduce the international affairs, energy and transportation budgets. These programs have a tremendous impact on US national security and economic interests, and have already seen heavy cuts in the last years. The amendment would prevent these programs from protecting against the illegal extraction of natural resources, overfishing, pollution, poor agricultural practices, and illegal wildlife trafficking.
Sen. Inhofe #395: Senators should oppose
This amendment would dramatically weaken the Clean Air Act by giving state governors the authority to reject common sense “Tier 3” tailpipe and fuel standards if it could be argued that they increase gasoline or diesel prices by any amount, including less than one penny per gallon. In addition to Tier 3 standards, amendment #395 could also apply to any smog, soot, toxic or carbon pollution health standards under the Clean Air Act that a governor could argue was connected to increased prices of gasoline or diesel. This would represent an unprecedented politicized interference with enforcement of the Clean Air Act.
Sen. Merkley #398 Senators should support
This amendment would support the Department of Energy ARPA-E’s successful investment of government research dollars. Now funding 285 projects in over 26 states, ARPA-E is driving innovation, attracting private capital and positioning American businesses as leaders of the next wave of energy breakthrough. Supporting this amendment will increase American competiveness and help build our clean energy future.
Sen. Lee #443: Senators should oppose
This amendment calls for arbitrary deadlines for compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”), which will cause federal agencies to do ineffective reviews and make quick, uninformed decisions, regardless of project complexity and while also sacrificing vital inter-agency consultation and public engagement with affected citizens, communities, tribes, local officials, and business owners. Oppose this amendment.
Sen. Lee #444: Senators should oppose
This amendment seeks to remove funding for the listing, recovery, and management for the Greater and Gunnison sage grouse species. The removal of funding and thereby the removal of any protections for the species will ensure extinction. Not only would this bill undermine protections for the Greater and Gunnison sage grouse, but it would also set dangerous precedent circumventing protections of the Endangered Species Act. It should be opposed.
Sen. Lee #445: Senators should oppose;
Senator Lee’s Amendment 445 seeks to remove funding for the management and enforcement of protections for the Utah prairie dog. The removal of funding and thereby the removal of any protections for the species will ensure its extinction. Not only would this bill undermine protections for the Utah prairie dog, but it would also set dangerous precedent circumventing protections of the Endangered Species Act. It should be opposed.
Sen. Lee #446: Senators should oppose
This amendment is a transparent attempt to pull the rug out from under the clean energy technologies of the future to the benefit of big oil. This amendment threatens to stifle the growing clean energy economy that is putting people back to work, making America more competitive, and cutting dangerous pollution. Oppose this amendment.
Sen. Murphy #454: Senators should support
Expanding international clean energy options is a critical component to reducing global warming pollution. In addition, as the climate changes we need to prepare for the impacts that we cannot prevent and aid those efforts in countries that are least resilient.
Sen. Vitter #457: Senators should oppose;
This amendment would turn America’s sovereign decision-making on climate change over to other governments. The amendment forbids Congress from even appropriating funds to even start to develop any carbon pollution standards until the administration certifies that the same measure has already been implemented and enforced in China, India, and Russia. Reject the Vitter amendment, because America makes its own decisions and doesn’t follow in China’s, India’s, or Russia’s shadow.
Sen. Manchin #458: Senators should oppose;
This amendment would dictate EPA carbon pollution standards without any due process for stakeholders and the public. It seeks to carve out a special deal for outdated types of new power plants that already cannot compete in the marketplace and cannot draw investors. The EPA received over 3 million comments supporting EPA’s carbon standards on power plants and this backdoor amendment would seek to disregard those valid comments. Congress should not be using a budget bill to circumvent the proven success of the Clean Air Act to protect our nation’s health and well-being. Climate change is the challenge of our time.
Sen. Johanns 461: Senators should oppose;
This amendment would gut the capacity for EPA to carry out the Clean Air Act. The amendment requires EPA to divert resources to provide technical assistance through modeling and data analysis to any state that requests it for purposes of developing State Implementation Plans (SIPs). However, this amendment does not increase EPA's budget by any amount to account for this enormous additional workload, nor does it allow EPA to continue to fully implement and enforce its core statutory responsibilities. If a large number of states asked for these forms of assistance, it could easily wipe out EPA's entire budget for carrying out the Clean Air Act. This should be opposed.
Sen. Cruz #470: Senators should oppose;
This amendment would prohibit the addition of a single acre of park, forest, or wildlife refuge in any state where a 50% threshold has been met for the amount of public land it can have. This move to give states control of our American public lands is a veiled attempt to exclusively lock up these areas exclusively for fossil fuel development. This should be opposed.
Sen. Coats #492: Senators should oppose;
This amendment seeks exemptions for coal-burning power plants from EPA’s Mercury and Air Toxics Standards. The amendment is an obvious tactic to pressure the President to exercise his discretionary authority in a manner that is inconsistent and at odds with the governing language in the Clean Air Act. This should be opposed.
Sen. Hoeven #494: Senators should oppose;
This amendment supports approval and construction of the dirty and dangerous Keystone XL tar sands pipeline that will increase gas prices throughout the Midwest. This amendment is just a grandstanding amendment to win favor with big oil, big foreign oil. This amendment is unnecessary because the Keystone XL pipeline decision which is currently under review by the State Department, is an executive decision and should remain so.
For more about this provision, read this blog by my colleague Danielle Droitsch, director of NRDC's Canada Project: http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/ddroitsch/vote_no_on_proposed_hoeven_ame.html
KEEP THE MURRAY BUDGET CLEAN