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 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 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 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 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.
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.
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. 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 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 rider in the House Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 423) exempts livestock grazing permit renewals from environmental review.
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 in the House Energy and Water appropriation (Sec. 505) would prevent states from accessing the federal assistance they need to move forward on shared ocean priorities identified in regional ocean plans and the National Ocean Policy. The National Ocean Policy’s common-sense coordination is driving responsible growth that can support coastal communities and businesses for generations.
A rider in the House Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 435) would undermine federal agency implementation of the National Ocean Policy and existing regional plans, leaving states without the help they need to move forward on shared ocean priorities. The rider would stymie local work which is benefitting our ocean economy, safety and security, and our ocean and coastal resilience.
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 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 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 rider in the House Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 116) delists gray wolves in the Great Lakes and Wyoming from the Endangered Species Act and prevents judicial review of this action.
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 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 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.