Last night, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a spending bill, "Cromnibus" as it is commonly called inside the Beltway, that is intended to fund most of the government until September 2015. Although a majority of the anti-environmental and public health riders pushed by members of the House were defeated, some significant ones still remain. Additionally, the bill cuts the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) budget by $60 million which means that while the EPA works to enact stronger environmental protections, it will be forced to reduce staffing to its lowest levels since 1989.
As the bill now waits for Senate approval, Earthjustice issued the following statement:
Statement from Martin Hayden, Earthjustice's Vice President of Policy & Legislation:
"We are deeply disappointed that a massive funding package has once again been used to carry anti-environmental and public health riders, even though we are pleased and appreciative that many of the new riders pushed by the House were kept out of the bill. However—and this is a big however—the practice of accepting a few new riders each budgeting cycle adds up over time, posing a significant threat to the health of our communities and the environment.
"Riders to weaken or block environmental and public health safeguards have become the new norm for rewarding polluters’ campaign contributions. Make no mistake, these so-called fiscal riders essentially become permanent law once inserted into a spending bill because they rarely disappear.
"This bill contains harmful riders dating back to the mid-1990s. Among the most notable are anti-environmental and public health riders to block endangered species protections as a reward for oil and gas industries and dirty water provisions to benefit mountaintop removal coal mining companies and big ag interests.
"The final decision on whether to include a controversial rider like these is always made by only a handful of negotiators—usually in the dark of night minus any meaningful public oversight or debate. For those of us who care about the health of our communities and the environment, these riders are simply the wrong way to determine the fate of the water we drink or the wildlife we enjoy."
Phillip Ellis, Earthjustice, (202) 745-5221