2017 Anti-Environmental Budget Riders

Fiscal Year 2018

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 2018, 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. 417) 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. 418) 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. 428) 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 in the House Interior and Environment appropriation added by Rep Perry (H. Amdt 359) rolls back the Clean Air Act and blocks any potential plan to address climate change. Instead of listening to the national security experts, faith leaders, scientists, energy innovators, health professionals and many others who are sounding the alarm on climate change and have implored our nation’s elected officials to support action, this amendment simply seeks another way to say "no."

A rider in the House Interior and Environment appropriation added by Rep Pearce (H. Amdt 361) would block a common sense policy that requires the oil and gas industry to reduce venting, flaring and leaks at industry operations on public and tribal lands by deploying methane mitigation technology. Blocking this rule would harm public health, waste hundreds of millions of dollars of natural gas, and reduce revenue to the federal government and Western states.

A rider added to the House Interior and Environment Appropriation by Rep Mullin (H. Amdt 368) blocks EPA from implementing its Methane Pollution Standard, the first-ever limits on methane pollution from the oil and gas sector (the largest emitter of methane). EPA's standards require proven, low-cost safeguards that will yield net climate benefits of $170 million in 2025 and will generate significant public health benefits as well by curbing smog and soot-forming Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) emissions and hazardous air pollutants.

A rider added to the House Interior and Environment Appropriation by Rep Mullin (H. Amdt 369) requires the federal government 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 that was added to the House Energy and Water Appropriations by Rep. Gosar (H. Amdt. 251) would block any consideration of the costs of carbon pollution on the rest of the world. This would bar the Department of Energy (DoE) from assessing and weighing the full costs of extreme weather or other climate impacts caused by our pollution, and the full benefits of any actions to improve energy efficiency or clean up carbon pollution.

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Clean Energy & Energy Efficiency

A rider in the House Energy and Water appropriation (Sec. 507) 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. 307) would allow nuclear waste to be stored in private 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 added to the House Energy and Water Appropriation by Rep Burgess (H. Amdt. 253) would block the Department of Energy from implementing and enforcing common sense energy efficiency standards for light bulbs. By all reasonable measures the transition has been a success, and efficient incandescent bulbs are among the variety of choices available for consumers. Reinstating this rider will prevent DoE from enforcing the standards against inefficient, noncompliant bulbs.

A rider added to the House Energy and Water Appropriation by Rep Stivers would prevent the Department of Energy from doing anything to further the Cape Wind Project off the coast of Massachusetts.

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Clean Water

A rider added to the House Interior and Environment appropriation by Rep. Goodlatte (H. Amdt 354) undermines the successful cooperative federalism of the Chesapeake Bay cleanup and will severely hamper progress being made to clean up local waters. The cleanup is working, and the current process has given the states more control than ever in seeking a solution to the degraded waters of the region, while taking advantage of federal resources to help the states meet their commitments.

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) and in the Senate Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec 424).

A rider in the House Energy and Water Appropriation (Sec. 108) would allow EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers to repeal the 2015 Clean Water Rule without following laws that would otherwise apply to such an action. That means the agencies could ignore public input in repealing the rule, or adopt a rule without any reasonable justification. By contrast, the Clean Water Rule was the result of public engagement and scientific analysis. It is unconscionable that Members of Congress want to carve out an exemption to longstanding transparency and good governance laws for the purposes of dismantling clean water protections. A similar rider was included in the House Interior and Environment Appropriation (Sec. 431).

A rider in the House Energy and Water appropriation (Sec. 203) 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 in the Senate Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 433) would reverse EPA’s “veto” during the Bush administration of the highly damaging Yazoo Pumps project in Mississippi, and direct the Corps to initiate the project’s construction. This project would have enormously harmful impacts on roughly 67,000 acres of wetlands. Moreover, the EPA proposal to prohibit the project had broad support, including 417 of 463 Mississippi residents that either submitted written comments or spoke at the public hearing. Incredibly, the rider would not only undo this nine-year-old decision; it also says that the project must be constructed, “[n]otwithstanding the final determination of the Environmental Protection Agency…or any other provision of law…, immediately and without delay or administrative or judicial review,” meaning that concerned citizens would be denied the usual opportunity to have independent judicial review of such a project. Notably, the 2008 EPA decision already was reviewed, and upheld, by the courts.

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Lands

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. 423) exempts livestock grazing permit renewals from environmental review. A similar provision was included in the Senate Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 422).

A rider in the House Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 436) 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 added to the House Interior and Environment appropriation by Rep. Westerman (H. Amdt. 353) prevents the Bureau of Land Management from accurately measuring and reporting oil production on federal lands. The effect of the rider is to prevent federal agencies from ensuring that all royalties due are paid.

A rider added to the House Interior and Environment appropriation by Rep. Pearce (H. Amdt. 360) prevents the Bureau of Land Management from accurately measuring and reporting oil and gas production on federal lands. The effect of the rider is to lowball royalties owed to American taxpayers.

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Oceans

Riders in the House Energy and Water Appropriation (Sec. 505), the House Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 435), and a rider added to the Commerce, Justice, and Science appropriation by Rep. Flores (H. Amdt. 389) would undermine work happening under the National Ocean Policy, which improves coordination among the dozens of government agencies that oversee marine health and development. These riders 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. Riders that take aim at good governance and hinder 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 have no place in Congress’ final budget bills.

A rider in the Senate Interior and Environment committee report (Committee Report pg. 37) fully supports the new Offshore Oil and Gas Five Year Plan process. The new planning process could potentially open all of our coasts to risky offshore drilling- in direct opposition to the groundswell of opposition during the last planning process which should have lasted through 2022.

A rider in the Senate Interior and Environment committee report (Committee Report pg. 37) encourages the administration’s review of the Well Control Rule- one of the few safety measures implemented after the Deepwater Horizon disaster. This objectionable provision ignores that the nation should be strengthening protections from offshore drilling disasters, not weakening them.

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Toxics and Public Health

A rider in the House Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 420) 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. 419).

A rider in the House Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 434) 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 Interior and Environment Committee Report (Page 59) encourages EPA to abandon three proposed rules to regulate dangerous solvents. These are the first proposed rules to regulate existing chemicals under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) since asbestos in 1989. The rider is particularly striking since the recently passed TSCA rewrite specifically authorized EPA to move forward with these regulations. The House rider will further delay protecting people from these toxic solvents that have already been extensively studied and linked to death and illness.

A rider in the Senate Interior and Environment Appropriation committee report (Committee Report Pg. 57) would zero out the Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS). IRIS is a critical EPA program that evaluates the health effects of toxic chemicals and determines “acceptable” levels of exposure to a chemical in air, water, food or soil. IRIS assessments are not regulations, but they are frequently used by regulators to set health-based standards for chemicals. Because of its importance as an independent scientific basis for regulations of air, water and soil pollution, the IRIS Program has been a perennial target of the chemical industry which has sought to block, weaken and delay the release of assessments. It has long been a goal of the chemical manufacturers to eliminate the IRIS Program, shutting down one of the few independent sources of evaluating chemicals for their potential to cause cancer, learning and developmental effects and reproductive harm.

A rider in the Senate Interior and Environment Appropriation committee report (Committee Report Pg. 69) 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.

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Wildlife

A rider in the House Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec 113) 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. A similar provision was included in the Senate Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 114).

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 similar provision was included in the Senate Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 120).

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. A national delisting for wolves would reverse the remarkable progress the ESA has achieved for this species and once again put the gray wolf at risk of extinction.

A rider added to the House Interior and Environment Appropriation by Rep Young (H. Amdt 351) blocks rules to regulate non-subsistence hunting in Alaska’s national preserves. The rider allows extremely aggressive, inhumane and scientifically unfounded forms of predator control such as spotlighting denning bears and cubs as they hibernate.

A rider added to the House Interior and Environment appropriation (H. Amdt. 364) offered by Rep. Lamborn (R-CO) prohibits funds from being used to implement or enforce the threatened species or endangered species listing of any plant or wildlife that has not undergone a review of Endangered Species Act of 1973.

A rider added to the House Interior and Environment Appropriation (H. Amdt. 365) by Rep. Lamborn blocks federal funding for the threatened Preble's Meadow Jumping Mouse under the Endangered Species Act, thwarting recovery efforts for this western species, which continues to experience habitat loss and other threats throughout its range. It would eliminate crucial recovery programs for the mouse, such as Habitat Conservation Plans, that require the participation of private and public land managers as well as federal funding.

A rider in the Senate Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 431) would overturn a court decision that requires federal land managers to reconsult with the Fish and Wildlife Service on land management plans when a new species is listed, critical habitat is designated, or other new pertinent information on a listed species becomes available. This will result in logging and resource development decisions being made without up-to-date science and species status, which could further imperil threatened or endangered species.

A rider in the Senate Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 121) would prevent the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from fulfilling its obligations under the Endangered Species Act. The provision blocks the agency from conducting any activities related to determining if the lesser prairie chicken may be a threatened species, setting a dangerous precedent by circumventing the scientific and legal process established to protect imperiled species.

A rider in the Senate Interior Appropriations Report committee report (Committee Report Pg. 17) encourages the Fish and Wildlife Service to end the Red Wolf recovery program and to declare the Red Wolf extinct. In expressing views about the status of the Red Wolf, this rider undermines the scientific and legal process established to protect and recover imperiled species.

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General

A rider in the House Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 433) blocks EPA from implementing, enforcing or finalizing the requirement that hard rock mining sites carry insurance to cover possible environmental damage. This provision will likely leave cleanup costs to the taxpayers under Superfund instead of making the responsible party pay for the damage they caused.

A rider added to the House Interior and Environment appropriation by Rep Smith (H. Amdt. 367) undermines the ability of citizens to recover attorney's fees when they prevail in lawsuits brought under the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act or Endangered Species Act. This restricts access to the courts and allows for the most egregious violations to remain unchecked.

A rider in the House Financial Services and General Government appropriation (Sec. 745) 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.

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