Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Republicans Are Using the Budget to Wage a Massive Assault on the Environment, Roll Back Protections

Republicans Are Using the Budget to Wage a Massive Assault on the Environment and Roll Back Crucial Protections

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Water is our single most critical resource. Yet Republicans are using the latest budget bill as a weapon to strip away basic protections that help preserve the water resources we all depend on for survival, and they're also attacking our air, food, wildlands and health.

Tiffany Danitz Pache writes for DC Bureau about the GOP's Continuing Resolution (H.R. 1) budget bill, "that would deny funding to the Environmental Protection Agency to implement guidelines needed to enforce the Clean Water Act." Not only is there language in the bill itself that is detrimental to environmental and human health, but legislators have tacked on over 400 amendments, some of which could roll back decades of hard work and critical environmental protections. One of the areas that will be particularly hard hit is Appalachia -- a region that has already been sacrificed for our love of "cheap" coal.

Residents of Appalachia have been working tirelessly to end the horrific practice of mountaintop removal mining, which allows coal companies to blast away entire mountaintops, dump the "debris" into rivers and streams, contaminate waterways and drinking water with chemicals, and threaten the health and safety of residents in the region.

Now all the hard work that activists have done to try to end this practice is in jeopardy, from politicians who'd rather serve the coal industry than their own constituents. JW Randolph of Appalachia Voices gives a breakdown of some of the most dangerous amendments:

  • Amendment #109 (Griffith-R-WV) - This amendment would defund EPA's authority to implement its recent guidance regarding mountaintop removal, which protects American citizens and Appalachian headwater streams from toxic mountaintop removal mining waste.
  • Amendment #216 (McKinley-R-WV) - This amendment would defund EPA's ability to implement its authority under section 404c to veto Clean Water Act permits that presented a threat to public health and well being. The recent veto of the Spruce Mine #1 permit is the most well-known example of this authority, which EPA uses only in extreme circumstances.
  • Amendments #219/220 (Johnson-R-OH) - These amendments would defund the Department of Interior's ability to implement its "Stream Protection Rule" (SPR) which is currently being drafted in order to protect our citizens from toxic coal waste.

These riders are a massive assault on the environment and on the communities of Appalachia, and as Randolph writes, they have nothing to do with reducing our budget but "instead are aimed at removing citizen protections from mountaintop removal."

Unfortunately, these are not the only threats to environmental and human health in the country. Wonk Room has a more comprehensive list, and sadly, the bad amendments keep coming. Here's a small portion of what they've compiled:

  • Amendment #10 (Stearns-R-FL) -To stop EPA from developing or issuing standards that list coal ash as hazardous waste under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.
  • Amendment #13 (Rooney-R-FL) -To stop EPA from using its funding to implement, administer or enforce new water quality standards for Florida's lakes and flowing waters, which were issued in November.
  • Amendment #84 (Pompeo-R-KS) - To cut $8.5 million from the EPA.
  • Amendment #109 (Griffith-R-VA) - To stop EPA from using its funding to implement or enforce new guidance for the review of possible water pollution from proposed coal-mining projects.
  • Amendment #127 (Young-R-AK) - To stop EPA from regulating air pollution from Arctic offshore drilling.
  • Amendment #149 (Leutkemeyer-R-MO) - To prohibit funding the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
  • Amendment #152 (Jenkins-R-KS) - To prevent funding the cleanup of pesticides and PCBs from the Great Plains Industrial Park (formerly the Kansas Army Ammunition Plant).
  • Amendment #165 (Carter-R-TX) - To stop EPA from using its funding to implement new air toxic pollution rules for cement kilns.
  • Amendment #169 (Poe-R-TX) - To eliminate K-12 National Science Foundation science & technology education funding.
  • Amendment #193 (Lummis-R-WY) - To eliminate funding for BLM, FWS, and USDA conservation land acquisition.
  • Amendment #198 (Poe-R-TX)- To stop EPA from creating a cap-and-trade program or enforcing any other regulations for greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act.
  • Amendment #202 (Labrador-R-ID) - To defund the White House Council on Environmental Quality.
  • Amendment #206 (Jones-R-NC) - To impede NOAA from preventing illegal fisheries activities.
  • Amendment #207 (Jones-R-NC) - To block penalties for illegal fisheries activities.
  • Amendment #216 (McKinley-R-WV) To stop EPA from administering or enforcing the sections of the Clean Water Act that govern dredge-and-fill permits, i.e. mountaintop-removal.
  • Amendment #217 (McKinley-R-WV) - To stop coal ash rules.
  • Amendment #218 (Johnson-R-OH) - To stop EPA from issuing new rules for the circumstances under which mining may be conducted near streams or from conducting an environmental impact statement on the impact of the rules; e.g. mountaintop removal.
  • Amendment #279 (Schock-R-IL) - To stop EPA from using its funding to re-evaluate the possible health effects of the approved herbicide atrazine.
  • Amendment #289 (McClintock-R-CA) - To stop Interior from issuing grants under the WaterSMART program, a conservation initiative intended to find solutions for the water shortages in many areas of the West.
  • Amendment #344 (Pearce-R-NM) - To prevent the support of citizen suits under the National Environmental Policy Act.
  • Amendment #345 (Pearce-R-NM) - To prevent the support of citizen suits under the Endangered Species Act.
  • Amendment #348 (Pearce-R-NM) - To stop Interior from putting funding toward climate change adaptation.
    (Read more of the list here)

These amendments put our water, air, food, health and wildlands in extreme jeopardy. You can help by calling your member of Congress right now at (202) 224-3121 and ask him or her not to support these dangerous amendments.

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