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For Immediate Release, February 16, 2011

Contact: Bill Snape, (202) 536-9351

House Republicans' Bill Would Gut Decades of Environmental Protections

Spending Legislation Would Mean More Pollution, Worse Climate Change,
Fewer Protections for Endangered Species

WASHINGTON— Formal debate began today on House Republicans’ spending bill that would cripple many of our nation’s cornerstone laws protecting air, water, wildlife, public lands and public health. The continuing resolution would, among other things, halt the reduction of dangerous carbon dioxide pollution and remove Endangered Species Act protections for the iconic gray wolf and other imperiled species. It would loosen restrictions on toxic mercury pollution and mountaintop mining; open up public lands to harmful activities; and slow progress to curb climate change and protect U.S. citizens from dirty air and water.

“This bill isn’t mere tinkering with policy, it’s carpet-bombing some of our nation’s most important environmental laws,” said Kierán Suckling, executive director of the Center for Biological Diversity. “In crafting this bill, Republicans have created a feeding frenzy for those intent on dismantling laws that for decades have protected our air, water, climate and wildlife.”

The 2010 budget resolution expires March 4. The continuing resolution is supposed to simply provide stop-gap funding to keep the government from shutting down. Debate on the bill began today; a vote is expected in the House later this week.

“Many of these amendments don’t have anything to do with reducing the budget. They’re about satisfying the wish-lists of polluters and others who prize big profit margins over vital protections for America’s wildlife, clean air and water,” Suckling said.

Among the hundreds of amendments to the bill are proposals that would stop the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming. Just weeks ago, the EPA began enforcing the Clean Air Act to reduce dangerous CO2 pollution from new sources like coal-fired power plants and oil refineries.

“The EPA is rightly doing its job to clean our air and protect its citizens from the worst effects of climate change. Some in Congress, though, would rather give polluters free rein to continue to dump greenhouse gases without any limit at all,” said Suckling.

In amendment after amendment, the bill also attempts to make end runs around some of the nation’s bedrock environmental laws, including the Endangered Species Act, which provides vital protections for the gray wolf that is still recovering in a tiny portion of its historic habitat.

“I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a Congress so openly hostile to science and protecting the environment,” Suckling said. “Wolves exist in less than 5 percent of their historic habitat, and yet these members of Congress are determined to strip protections and open them up to widespread killing.”

The House Republicans’ continuing resolution and amendments:

  • Stop federal agencies from protecting the public from the impacts of mountaintop-removal mining.
  • Eliminate 2011 funding for implementation of Clean Air Act rules to curb CO2 and other greenhouse gas pollutants.
  • Block implementation of a decades-long effort to restore salmon to the San Joaquin River and eliminate certain protections from water diversions for salmon and other endangered species in the San Francisco Bay-Delta.
  • Halt the Chesapeake Bay health program.
  • Scuttle national forest travel plans that advance conservation, wildlife conservation and stream protection.
  • Limit the president’s ability to protect national treasures through the 1906 Antiquities Act, which Republican Teddy Roosevelt used to save thousands of acres.
  • Prohibit EPA from implementing portions of the Clean Water Act, threatening drinking water and potentially leaving wetlands without protection from pollution.
  • Restrict EPA’s ability to implement coal-ash safeguards. Coal ash is a dangerous waste generated by burning coal that contains arsenic, lead, hexavalent chromium, selenium and other harmful byproducts.
  • Exempt Big Oil from Clean Air Act review for drilling in the Arctic.
  • Block EPA from enforcing existing rules to control mercury and other toxic pollutants at cement plants.
  • Block attempts to stop polluters in Florida from fouling waters with fertilizers, sewage and manure.
  • Prevent the Bureau of Land Management from implementing its new "wildlands" policy that allows the agency to survey and provide interim protections for certain public lands that have not received a formal wilderness designation from Congress.
  • Defund the Council on Environmental Quality, established by President Richard Nixon to coordinate environmental policy among all federal agencies.
  • Slash spending on land and water acquisition and conservation programs by more than $200 million compared to the 2010 funding level.

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