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Greens: Obama won’t be cowed by anti-environmental riders

Environmentalists aren’t too worried about possible attempts by the new GOP majority to tack on anti-environmental riders to spending bills.

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) said if incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellSenate holds two-hour Biden lovefest Confirm Gary Richard Brown for the Eastern District of New York The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE (R-Ky.) tries to attach measures that would block the president’s signature climate change regulations on carbon pollution they will get the veto pen.

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McConnell said on Wednesday that he plans to do just that, and called the appropriations process the “best tool” for Republicans to attack what they consider the president’s “war on coal.”

“The GOP leaders made it clear that they want to block action on climate. They want to eliminate the [Environmental Protection Agency's] authority to do anything on climate,” David Goldston, NRDC’s director of government affairs said on a call with reporters on Thursday.

“And on the water [rule], they are taking aim at the EPA's proposal that would make clear which waters are protected under the Clean Water Act," he added.

The GOP argues the EPA’s Waters of the U.S. rule is a massive “land grab” that extends the agency’s powers. As for the president’s climate rule, a majority of Republicans are "skeptical" of the science behind climate change, and say the rule would kill energy jobs and hurt the economy.

Goldston said if McConnell moves forward with his plan, greens are confident the president won’t bend and allow riders blocking key pieces of his climate change legacy to go forward.

“The president has made clear that he will not be cowed by an appropriations strategy, by people trying to load up spending bills with provisions that the public doesn’t support and so we would expect that to be the case again,” Goldston said.

He added that if the GOP leadership is vowing a “return to regular order” then tethering riders to must-pass spending bills is a “method of hostage taking” and “should not be considered a way to do business.”

Greens are also hoping that with the GOP majority the public will see the party’s attempts to “roll back environmental protections” more clearly, arguing that the House agenda to push back at the president’s environmental and climate actions have gone under the radar.

“As the public sees what their extreme environmental agenda is there [will be] a backlash,” Goldston said.

Environmentalists admitted their record spending on the midterms didn’t work as much they’d hoped, and that a number of climate champions were defeated on Election Day. Still, they said they will continue to push climate change as an issue in future elections.

A push against the administration’s climate policies will come fast and hard as soon as Republicans take power next year. High on their list of priorities is passing legislation approving the Keystone XL pipeline, which would carry crude oil from Alberta to Gulf refineries.