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Anti-Environment Foot Comes Down In Congress

It’s been a harrowing past few weeks (to say the least). The first jolt came Feb. 19, when House leaders approved a spending plan that slashed an array of environmental safeguards and pretty much gave polluter industries a free pass to continue using our air and water as their dumping grounds.

Amid the back and forth over the final spending legislation, the government came this close to a disastrous shut-down, with rumors that women’s reproductive rights and the EPA’s authority to regulate carbon emissions were on the bargaining table, but in the end, President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid were able to stave off clean air and water attacks. The final budget will be voted on by congressional leaders in the next few days and cuts $38 billion.

But not all was won. In the 11th hour, House Speaker John Boehner and his Tea Party flank were able to slip a few anti-environmental attacks in there, among them one that will remove ESA protections for gray wolves.

And yes, we keep saying this, but it needs to be stated loud and clear: this marks the first time in history that a species will be delisted by Congress. This is a horrifying precedent for not only gray wolves but our other threatened species - grizzly bears, sea turtles, salmon and polar bears among the many.

Not only that, the spending bill targets wilderness areas, with language in the budget that aims to tie the hands of federal land managers overseeing some of America’s last great wild natural lands.

The bill also includes language that defunds several White House positions, including one for a White House climate and energy advisor. Carol Browner left that post alread, so this is probably not more than a ceremonious dig against the White House.

Finally, the budget bill had text that will block funding of the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Service which is aimed at the development of timely and reliable scientific data and information to help our communities, businesses, and other government agencies prepare for extreme weather and climate events.

Remember the tsunami and earthquake disaster in Japan? Yeah, we didn’t forget that either.

These anti-environmental provisions have us scratching our heads and lead us to wonder: are any of these measures really a solution to America's soaring deficit?

About the Earthjustice Blog

unEARTHED is a forum for the voices and stories of the people behind Earthjustice's work. The views and opinions expressed in this blog do not necessarily represent the opinion or position of Earthjustice or its board, clients, or funders. Learn more about Earthjustice.