It’s a shame that it took the House days and many late night and early morning hours to come up with a budget plan like this. And during the wee hours of 4:35 a.m. the final roll call counted a vote of 235 to 189. And just like that our elected leaders eliminated safeguards for our air, water and wildlife.
The House voted to turn Florida’s once-clear waters into poisonous blooms of green slime. It also gave polluters the green light to continue choking our air with mercury pollution from cement kilns, to dump toxic coal ash in communities nationwide, to blow up the mountains of Appalachia and to endanger salmon and slaughter our wolves. Our elected leaders also took aim at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, limiting them from curbing the carbon dioxide pollution of the nation’s biggest polluters, which they are lawfully required to do.
In more detail, some of the most harmful amendments adopted:
- Reduce the EPA’s ability to protect the public from the nation’s second largest industrial waste stream – toxic coal ash – laden with arsenic, mercury, chromium, lead, and other hazardous substances.
- Block clean water rules to prevent the spread of green slime in Florida’s waters.
- Stop federal agencies from protecting the public and the environment from destructive mountaintop removal mining.
- Block the EPA’s authority to veto permits to “fill” and destroy streams and wetlands in mountaintop removal mining projects.
- Remove the EPA’s ability to regulate air emissions for Arctic Ocean drilling activities.
- Block health protections that reduce air pollution from the nation’s third largest source (cement kilns) of mercury pollution, as well as other toxic emissions.
- Prevent the EPA from enforcing laws currently on the books to limit greenhouse gas pollution from the nation’s biggest polluters. The bill also would issue a stop-work order on common-sense rules to limit dangerous carbon dioxide pollution from the nation’s biggest polluters.
- Prevent individuals of modest means, small businesses, and non-profits, including veterans, social security recipients and conservationists, from collecting legal fees as the result of successful litigation against illegal actions by the federal government awarded to them by the courts under the Equal Access to Justice Act.
- Block completion of a critical study needed to assess the feasibility to remove dams in the Klamath River in order to restore what had formerly been one of the nation’s largest commercial salmon fisheries.
- 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.
- Block U.S. funding for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the leading international scientific body for the assessment and peer review of the most recent scientific, technical and socio-economic data on climate change.
- Block the EPA from adopting a more protective standard on coarse particulate matter (PM 10) air pollution that is linked to heart disease and lung cancer.
The House pandered to dirty industry in their spending plan which is evidenced in the billions in subsidies they’ve given to polluters each year according to the Environmental Law Institute. President Obama’s own budget plan calls for eliminating $36.5 billion in oil and gas subsidies and $2.3 billion in coal subsidies over the next 10 years. The House should have gone that route, instead of slashing the very programs and agencies that keep us safe and healthy.
The bill now moves to the U.S. Senate, which must reject this unmitigated disaster that is attempting to masquerade as a serious legislative endeavor. It is time for the adults to take over.