Despite Strong Stands, Total Funding is Cut to Lowest Level in Decades

WASHINGTON (May 19, 2006) -- The U.S. House of Representatives yesterday approved a significant budget cut in the Interior Appropriations bill, setting funding for protection of some of the country's most valuable natural assets at the lowest level since the 1970s. The good news is that a shifting majority featuring surprising blocks of Republicans also voted for a series of amendments that blocked some of the strongest anti-environmental provisions of the bill.

Even former House Majority Leader Tom Delay (R-Texas) said, "Republicans are voting green tonight," the Wall Street Journal reported today.

QUASHING OIL COMPANY GIVEAWAY: The House approved the Hinchey amendment to stop the federal government from giving oil and gas companies "royalty relief" from deep water drilling projects at a time of record-high profits.

PROTECTING COASTAL COMMUNITIES: The House approved the Putnam-Capps amendment, restoring a ban on coastal drilling for natural gas.

MAINTAINING CLEAN WATER: The House approved the Oberstar-Leach-Dingell amendment that blocks EPA from implementing an administration policy limiting Clean Water Act protection for many of the nation's small streams, wetlands, ponds and other waters.

KEEPING ROADS OUT OF UNTOUCHED FOREST: The House voted for the Chabot/Andrews amendment to end decades of roadbuilding subsidies that support clearcut logging in Alaska's Tongass National Forest.

RIGHT TO KNOW: The Pallone-Solis amendment was approved, prohibiting the EPA from changing the Toxics Release Inventory program and community right-to-know laws to allow companies to produce 10 times more pollution before being required to report it.

ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE: The House approved the Hastings amendment to ensure that EPA protects all communities equally from exposure to abnormally high levels of water pollution, air pollution and toxic waste.