Fiscal Year 2019
Once again the Republican leadership, especially in the House, is advancing a Big Polluter Agenda to undermine just about every basic environmental protection current law provides to the American people. It appears no environmental law is safe from the demands of corporate polluters and their cheerleaders in the Republican Party.
The Republican Leadership is trying to force this Big Polluter Agenda on the public through provisions in must-pass spending bills. These provisions are called "riders" because they ride along on unrelated legislation. Riders that are typically tacked onto a spending bill, for example, would not change federal spending by one cent. Instead, riders are used to sneak through legislative changes that would be difficult to pass on their own in open congressional debate. Riders often result in the measures getting less scrutiny and enable their sponsors to avoid responsibility for pushing them. In the past, spending riders have led to government shutdowns when intransigent Republicans were unwilling to fund the government without restricting environmental protection.
But polling clearly shows strong public support for environmental protection. That’s why the Republican leadership uses riders—they know how hard it would be to prevail on a clean yes-or-no vote directly on environmental and public health protections. Republican leaders have learned little after forcing a government shutdown that Standard & Poor's says cost the nation $24 billion. They are again threatening damage to America's families, communities, and economy as they strive to reverse many years of progress.
These are the riders that have been added so far to the spending bills for fiscal year 2019, which begins October 1. We include section numbers to indicate where these riders are found in the corresponding legislation. In some cases, we include amendment numbers for riders that were voted into legislation but have not yet been assigned section numbers. This page will be updated as the appropriations process plays out in the House and Senate.
Clean Air & Climate Change
A rider in the House Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 416) permanently prevents the EPA from limiting pollution from livestock production under the Clean Air Act. A similar provision was included in the Senate Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 416).
A rider in the House Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 417) prevents the EPA from requiring the reporting of greenhouse gas emissions from manure management systems. A similar provision was included in the Senate Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 417).
A rider in the House Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 429) requires all biomass burned for electricity production to be considered to have zero carbon pollution despite the fact that emissions from wood biomass are often higher than those from coal. This language threatens the long-term health of forests by encouraging the burning of trees to generate electricity, and worsens climate change by pretending climate-changing emissions don't exist. A similar provision was included in the Senate Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 428).
A rider in the House Interior and Environment appropriation (sec. 432) delays EPA’s latest health standards for ground-level ozone (smog) pollution for ten years, preventing Americans from even having the right to know if the air they breathe is unhealthy for ten years and severely delaying cleanup steps. The rider also would let corporations that apply for air pollution permits pollute at levels that are unsafe under national health standards.
A rider added to the House Interior and Environment Appropriation by Rep Long (H. Amdt 349) prevents EPA from requiring industrial animal production facilities to report the quantities of even extremely dangerous substances that they release into air, even in emergencies, and even when such releases endanger neighbors. The amendment also prevents EPA from enforcing the law with respect to these facilities. People who live near these facilities deserve the same protections as people who live near other sources of dangerous industrial pollution.
A rider added to the House Energy and Water appropriation by Rep. Gohmert (H. Amdt. 757) would block any consideration of the costs of carbon pollution. This would require the Department of Energy (DoE) to blind itself to the economic costs of climate change. These costs, which affect businesses, families, governments, and taxpayers, could reach hundreds of billions of dollars through rising healthcare costs, destruction of property, increased food prices, and more.
A rider in the House State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs appropriation (Sec. 7034 (j)) would prohibit contributions, grants or any other payments to the Green Climate Fund (GCF), which spurs developing countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The United States has pledged to contribute $3 billion to the GCF, but has only contributed $1 billion so far.
A rider in the House State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs appropriation (Sec. 7062(4)) would bar climate safeguards put in place for America’s international finance under the guise of preventing American job loss. The bill prohibits funding for enforcement of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) Environmental and Social Policy Statement provisions relating to coal, and enforcement of the Export-Import (Ex-Im) Bank’s Supplemental Guidelines for High Carbon Intensity Projects that limit support for coal plants overseas. These rules eliminate gains made in previous years that were designed to limit the negative climate impacts of projects funded by OPIC and Ex-Im overseas, by allowing highly polluting projects to be eligible for U.S. government support. A similar rider was included in the Senate State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs appropriation (Sec. 7073(4)).
A rider in the House Financial Services and General Government appropriation (Sec. 746) would prevent implementation of new measures to protect public infrastructure from flooding. The federal flood protection standard is meant to increase our resilience to future flooding, protecting lives and reducing taxpayer dollars spent to rebuild after a disaster. The rider only serves to harm the American public.
Clean Energy & Energy Efficiency
A rider in the House Energy and Water appropriation (Sec. 508) would prevent the government from shutting down the proposed nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain in Nevada.
A rider in the Senate Energy and Water appropriation (Sec. 304) would allow nuclear waste to be stored in private interim facilities. The rider severs any meaningful linkage between the storage and disposal of nuclear waste by exploring storage as a viable option for dealing with nuclear waste from the nation’s weapons programs and nuclear power plants. This dangerous precedent breaks with over 50 years of scientific consensus that supports permanent isolation in deep geological repositories as the only technically, economically, and ethically viable waste disposal option. The substantial distinction between nuclear waste storage and nuclear waste disposal must be preserved and never be blurred.
A rider in the House Energy and Water appropriation (Sec. 107) exempts certain discharges of dredged or fill material from environmental review, overruling a Clean Water Act directive that discharges that would cause specified harms must be permitted. A similar rider was included in the House Interior and Environment Appropriation (Sec. 430).
A rider in the House Energy and Water appropriation (Sec. 507) would limit options for properly managing rivers by preventing federal dam removals to occur without express Congressional authorization. Dams can have severe impacts on water quality and wildlife but beyond that as dams age and decay, they can also become public safety hazards, presenting a failure risk and a dangerous nuisance.
A rider in the House Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 431) legislatively repeals the landmark Clean Water Rule without legislative hearings, deliberation, and debate, and without regard to the broad public support for clear and effective clean water safeguards for the nation’s streams and wetlands. In doing so, it also returns protection against water pollution to their prior state of disarray. The Clean Water Rule protects water bodies that help supply one third of Americans with clean drinking water. This broadly supported rule is the product of extensive public engagement and scientific analysis. Repealing the rule and returning clean water enforcement to a state of uncertainty will harm all those to depend on clean water for business, recreation and health. A similar rider was included in the House Energy and Water appropriation (Sec. 108).
A rider in the House Energy and Water appropriation (Sec. 205) prohibits implementation of the San Joaquin River Restoration settlement between the United States, Friant Water Authority, and conservation and fishing groups to restore the river as required under state and federal law. This would prevent funding for water supply and flood control projects that benefit local farmers, and likely lead the parties back to court because it would allow some 60 miles of California’s second longest river to remain completely dry in violation of state law.
A rider added to the House Energy and Water appropriation by Rep. LaMalfa (H. Amdt. 756) would weaken existing Clean Water Act Requirements. Although certain wetlands on agricultural land are ordinarily exempt from the Act’s protection, they lose their exemption if they are “abandoned” and no longer used for agricultural production.
A rider in the House Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 407) allows the Secretary of Agriculture to rely on outdated forest plans, ignoring the reality that national forests are not being managed sustainably, nor taking into account additional considerations such as the increasing impacts from climate change. A similar provision was included in the Senate Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 407).
A rider in the House Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 421) exempts livestock grazing permit renewals from environmental review. A similar provision was included in the Senate Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 420).
A rider in the House Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 433) forbids federal land management agencies from placing reasonable limits via the normal land use planning process on fishing, shooting activities for hunting, or recreational shooting if those activities were allowed as of January 1, 2013.
A rider in the House Energy and Water appropriation (Sec. 505) would undermine work happening under the National Ocean Policy, which improves coordination among the dozens of government agencies that oversee marine health and development. It would prevent states from accessing the federal assistance they need to advance best practices on key issues, including offshore wind projects that will power our cities, sand mining to rebuild our beaches, and aquaculture that adds to coastal economies. The rider, which takes aim at good governance and hinders agreements hammered out over several years by states from Maine to Virginia, regional fisheries managers, tribes, and federal agencies—and with extensive industry and public involvement—won’t help us make better development decisions and has no place in Congress’ final budget bills.
Toxics and Public Health
A rider in the House Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 418) permanently prevents the EPA from regulating toxic lead in ammunition, ammunition components, or fishing tackle under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) or any other law. A similar rider was included in the Senate Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 418).
A rider in the House Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 432) would prohibit EPA from writing any rule that would require the largest industrial animal farms (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations, or CAFOs) to properly store, transport, or dispose of their wastes, including the hundreds of millions of tons of manure they generate annually. CAFO wastes contain dangerous pollutants that can increase the risk of birth defects, infant deaths, diabetes, and cancer. When not handled properly, CAFO wastes endanger drinking water sources and pose a particularly severe risk to rural communities reliant on well water.
A rider in the House Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education appropriation (Sec. 229) would interfere with the work of the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). The rider would defund IARC unless it complies with a list of politically motivated demands designed to undermine its work. IARC is the cancer research arm of the World Health Organization and supplies vital information on the cancer risks of chemicals that people are exposed to. Its lifesaving work has been repeatedly targeted by the chemical industry. The terms and conditions of researching whether chemicals cause cancer should not be set by toxic chemical manufacturers.
A rider in the Senate Interior and Environment appropriation Committee Report (Committee Report Pg. 73) is part of an effort to legislatively and administratively overturn a judicial ruling finding that a Bush-Administration rule illegally created a loophole for large agribusinesses releasing significant amounts of hazardous substances into the air. The DC Circuit found that exemption illegal, but stayed the vacatur of the rule for 90 days to give EPA time to “develop guidance for farms on how to measure or estimate their emissions in order to come into compliance with the reporting requirements” of these statutes. To evade the goals of the statute and court ruling, the Trump Administration proposed a new exemption that shields thousands of facilities from reporting requirements, even when they are hurting the health of rural communities. The facilities that this rider would shield emit massive amounts of dangerous substances like hydrogen sulfide and ammonia linked to diseases and significant reductions in quality of life for neighbors. The emissions of these substances are no less harmful to neighbors than the emissions of the same substances from other industrial facilities subject to CERCLA/EPCRA; neighbors deserve to know what’s in their air.
A rider in the House Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 115) prevents the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) from fulfilling its obligations under the Endangered Species Act by disallowing FWS to issue or propose a rule to protect the greater sage grouse, Columbia basin sage grouse, or bi-state sage grouse. A similar provision was included in the Senate Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 115).
A rider in the House Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 116) blocks federal Endangered Species Act protections for gray wolves in the Great Lakes and Wyoming and prevents judicial review of this action. In doing so, this rider not only ignores the Endangered Species Act’s science-based decision-making process, but also undermines the rule of law and citizens’ access to the courts more broadly.
A rider in the House Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 117) blocks efforts to protect endangered gray wolves in the continental United States under the Endangered Species Act. This species is currently listed as endangered in most of the lower 48 states. The rider would mandate a delisting, which would reverse the remarkable progress the ESA has achieved for this species and once again put the gray wolf at risk of extinction. The provision goes on to tamper with the judicial system by blocking court access in relation to this issue.
A rider in the House Interior and Environment appropriations (Sec. 437) would preclude judicial review of the California WaterFix project under federal law, and attempts to preclude judicial review of this project under state law, preempting state law. More than 20 lawsuits have been filed by farmers, fishermen, water districts, local governments, and conservation groups challenging the permitting and financing for this $17 billion project, which proposes to construct two massive tunnels under the Bay-Delta estuary that threaten native fish and wildlife including salmon, water quality and local communities.
A rider added to the House Interior and Environment appropriation by Rep. Valadao (Sec. 441) seeks to preclude judicial review regarding the federal Central Valley Project and California’s State Water Project. In the past, courts have concluded that these two massive water projects jeopardized the continued existence of salmon and other species listed under the Endangered Species Act, resulting in litigation filed by water districts, farms, fishing groups, the state of California, and conservation groups. The amendment appears to attempt to preclude State law as applied to the State Water Project, raising significant constitutional concerns. Precluding judicial review of these massive water projects is inconsistent with American values and would prevent all stakeholders from challenging actions of the federal government.
A rider added to the House Interior and Environment appropriation by Rep. Amodei (Sec. 122) would prohibit any land management agency from placing any limit on the exercise of water rights as a condition for issuing a permit or other approval to use public lands or a waterway. This could result in preventing federal agencies from implementing reasonable requirements for hydropower intended to keep water in rivers for aquatic species and recreation, protect water quality, and effective fish passage.
A rider added to the House Interior and Environment appropriation by Rep. Newhouse (Sec. 438) would prevent the restoration of grizzly bears to the North Cascades ecosystem, where fewer than 10 bears remain. This rider would thwart a science-based public process currently underway to recover this population of bears into its historic habitat.
A rider in the House Interior and Environment appropriation by Rep. Herrera Beutler (Sec. 440) would block a recovery plan for the marbled murrelet, a unique seabird that is currently listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act and endangered under Washington State’s ESA. The rider would impede on a Habitat Conservation Plan and related conservation strategy currently under development in Washington State. In doing so, this amendment would interfere with science-based decision-making under the ESA and inappropriately interfere with a state-controlled process designed to protect a federally-listed species.
A rider in the House Interior and Environment appropriation Committee Report (Pg. 13) directs the Fish and Wildlife Service to remove federal Endangered Species Act protections for red wolves and Mexican gray wolves if the agency concludes that those species are not “taxonomically valid.” Today, fewer than 45 red wolves exist in the wild; the Mexican gray wolf is the most endangered gray wolf in the world, with only 97 in the wild in the United States. Furthermore, decisions about whether a species is deserving of protection should be made by scientists at the expert wildlife agencies—not politicians in Congress.
Language in the Senate Interior and Environment appropriation Committee Report (Pg. 21) acknowledges issues raised by the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission regarding the Red Wolf Recovery Program, and urges the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to work closely with the Commission to avoid negative impacts to landowners and other native species during fiscal year 2019. In expressing views about the status of the Red Wolf, this language undermines the regulatory process established to protect and recover imperiled species.
A rider in the House Energy and Water appropriation (Sec. 506), known as the “Salmon Extinction Rider,” would jeopardize the continued existence of thirteen imperiled wild salmon and steelhead populations in the Columbia River Basin. Hundreds of communities, businesses, tribes, and other wildlife species from California to Alaska depend on Columbia Basin salmon. This rider would roll back protections for the fish (specifically, increased water over the dams), and it would freeze in place a woefully inadequate plan of operation for the Basin’s dams that violates the Endangered Species Act and risks extinction.
Report language in the House Energy and Water appropriation (Pgs. 62-63) seeks to alter the purpose of reinitiated consultations under the ESA regarding the effects of massive state and federal water projects on salmon and other endangered species in California’s Bay-Delta. The existing biological opinions were failing to prevent the water projects from jeopardizing the continued existence of these listed species, and more protective measures are needed. However, this report language seeks to validate the Trump Administration’s objective of increasing water diversions from the Bay-Delta estuary as the purpose of this reinitiation of consultation, which is inconsistent with the best available science and requirements of the Endangered Species Act.
A rider in the House Commerce, Justice and Science appropriation (Sec. 541) seeks to prohibit the National Marine Fisheries Service from exercising the agency’s existing statutory authority to propose recommendations and mandatory conditions on the FERC license for a hydropower dam on the Tuolumne River, which are necessary to protect native salmon runs and other native fish species. This rider is strongly opposed by commercial and recreational fishing organizations and conservation groups because it attempts to prevent the expert agency from providing advice to FERC and mandatory conditions necessary to prevent this dam from continuing to harm native salmon runs in the river.
A rider in the House Commerce, Justice, and Science appropriation Committee Report (Pg. 18) would increase pressure on the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) to implement anti-environmental provisions of a 2016 rider to the WIIN Act that authorizes, and in some instances mandates, overriding existing protections for salmon and other endangered species in California’s Bay-Delta estuary. These provisions are inconsistent with state law and would harm fishing jobs. Additional report language pressures the National Marine Fisheries Service to weaken protections for endangered salmon below Shasta dam. NMFS has determined that stronger temperature protections for salmon are needed below the dam as a result of new scientific information and the near complete mortality of endangered salmon below the dam in 2014 and 2015 due to lethal water temperatures.
A rider in the House Commerce, Justice, and Science appropriation Committee Report (Pgs. 18-19) seeks to alter the purpose of reinitiated consultations under the ESA regarding the effects of massive state and federal water projects on salmon and other endangered species in California’s Bay-Delta. The existing biological opinions were failing to prevent the water projects from jeopardizing the continued existence of these listed species, and more protective measures are needed. However, this report language seeks to validate the Trump Administration’s objective of increasing water diversions from the Bay-Delta estuary as the purpose of this reinitiation of consultation, which is inconsistent with the best available science and requirements of the Endangered Species Act.