The U.S. House Committee on Appropriations advanced legislation to the full House today that would increase funding to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) by 23% and would make key investments in Interior Department programs.
The following is a statement from Martin Hayden, Vice President of Policy and Legislation at Earthjustice:
“This bill is a significant step forward from where we have been in recent years, and we must take advantage of every opportunity we have right now to secure more resources for tackling the climate and biodiversity crises and to protect and invest in communities facing environmental injustices.”
Key Earthjustice priorities in the FY 2021 House Interior-EPA Appropriations legislation include:
$150 million for The Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) program to support grants to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve local air quality by getting rid of harmful diesel emissions, which is particularly harmful to communities located along ports, highways, and freight corridors. (EPA)
$320 million for state and local air quality management to accelerate the deployment of air monitoring equipment, especially in overburdened communities, and to enhance ongoing efforts at the state level to address emissions of carbon pollution. (EPA)
$271 million for enforcement of environmental laws under the jurisdiction of the EPA. Protecting public health and communities overburdened by pollution through vigorous enforcement is essential to preventing new and cleaning up legacy pollution. (EPA)
$120 million for the Energy Community Revitalization Program (ECRP) to begin cleaning up the hundreds of thousands of abandoned hardrock mines and orphaned oil and gas wells on federal, state, and tribal lands. Cleaning up hardrock mines and orphaned wells will require a much greater funding investment (the EPA estimates a $50 billion dollar clean up backlog for hardrock mines, and there are over 57,000 documented orphan wells on state lands — plus more than 14,000 on federal lands, and likely thousands more that have not yet been formally documented), but this funding is an important step. (Department of the Interior)
Protects special places, including The Boundary Waters wilderness in Northern Minnesota, which would be protected from a proposed copper sulfide mine, and the Tongass National Forest, where millions in taxpayer-funded subsidies for logging by the timber industry would be stopped. (Forest Service)
In report language, asks the Department of the Interior to strengthen financial assurances and bonding for offshore oil and gas production, and to also create a dedicated reclamation fee funded by the industry. We also encourage Congress to add additional funding beyond the $5 million to address offshore orphaned infrastructure.
The bill also will need some important improvements as it moves forward in Congress, including the removal of a policy provision on biomass, which promotes the harmful, carbon-spewing biomass as a use for our forests.