Just as summer begins and families go outdoors to enjoy clean water, public lands and other natural resources, the House Appropriations Committee passed another spending bill with policy “riders” that will harm public health and put at risk special places people care about. The 2013 Interior and Environment bill that passed today is loaded up with special interest policies to benefit polluters and others—policies that do not belong on a spending bill.
Included among these riders are provisions that will pollute our waters, block greenhouse gas limits, limit hazardous waste cleanups, and threaten public lands. Efforts to strike these harmful provisions were defeated along party lines.
“Clean water is a basic right and a top priority for voters and the public,” said Joan Mulhern, senior legislative counsel. “Yet the members who voted for this bill voted for dirty water. Do they even care about the streams, beaches, lakes and ponds where families swim and fish? Or about drinking water safety, when 117 million Americans get public water supplies from streams and rivers affected by the anti-pollution policies they are blocking? It seems the answer is no.”
The bill also contains a rider to block Interior Department regulations that may be proposed to protect streams from mountaintop removal mining, a destructive form of strip mining that blows up mountains, has buried 2000 miles of streams, and causes illness including birth defects in nearby communities.
“Our public lands are part of our national heritage, and are among the special places families visit for their summer vacations,” stated Rebecca Judd, legislative counsel. “Spending bills are no place to set public lands policies, especially when doing so threatens the outdoor places people care about.”
The bill also restricts the EPA’s ability to adopt carbon pollution standards.
“On the heels of a major court victory validating the EPA’s actions to combat climate pollution, those on the losing side—big polluters and their friends—are using every trick they can to stop clean air standards for cars and industrial sources so they can keep polluting and avoid cleaning up,” said Sarah Saylor, senior legislative representative.
Earthjustice applauded House members who voted to strike the anti-environmental provisions in the underlying bill, and to oppose the new riders added in full committee, especially House Appropriations Committee Ranking Member Rep. Norm Dicks (D-WA) and Subcommittee Ranking Member Rep. James Moran (D-VA).