House Rolls Back Clean Air, Federal Lands Protections in Latest Assault
WASHINGTON (June 21, 2012) – In its latest assault on our environment, the Republican-controlled House today passed a bill that would radically weaken America’s system for protecting clean air and federal lands— adding to the 247 anti-environment votes already cast by the chamber since January 2011.
The Domestic Energy and Jobs Act would eliminate the Clean Air Act requirement to base smog standards solely on science. It also would delay new clean air standards, remove major protections for oil drilling on public lands and incentivize more drilling in our oceans.
“This Big Oil and tea party wish list would lead to dirtier air and drilling on pristine lands,” said Franz Matzner, associate director of government affairs at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “Even oil drilling supporters should be concerned about the fundamental shift in the country’s health and environmental protections in this legislation.”
“This wasn’t a cut-and-dried vote on expanding drilling. This legislation would prevent citizens from challenging key oil drilling leases and permits on lands that belong to the public and, furthermore, ties the hands of future presidents and the courts when deciding whether it makes sense where and when to drill for oil. We should be thankful it will never become law,” Matzner said.
In approving the bill, H.R. 4480, the House majority also voted down two amendments aiming to protect health, especially for young children. One was an amendment proposed by Rep. Gene Green, D-Texas, to retain the 40-year-old requirement that Environmental Protection Agency must base its clean air standards on the latest science and what’s best for our health. The House also rejected a measure by Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colo., to prohibit hydraulic fracturing by a federal oil and gas lease within 1,000 feet of a school.
“Once again, House leadership chose extremism over protecting our health, communities and creating real jobs for real people,” Matzner said.
For more details on the bill’s provisions, see Elly Pepper’s blog post
For more information on the Polis amendment, see Amy Mall’s blog post
The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 1.3 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Livingston, Montana, and Beijing. Visit us at www.nrdc.org and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.