Energy & Environment

Green groups mark spending bill’s failure

Green groups celebrated Republican leadership’s decision to pull an Interior and Environment spending bill amid a raucous debate over the Confederate flag on Thursday.

Environmentalists had deeply opposed the GOP’s $30.17 billion spending bill because of several climate and environmental provisions in it. A Republican amendment to undo anti-Confederate flag language adopted earlier this week imperiled the bill on Thursday, and Republican leadership pulled it from the floor before members could vote on it. 

{mosads}”House Republican leadership has turned this important appropriations legislation into a toxic mess, again proving they are fully out of step with the American people,” Sierra Club legislative director Melinda Pierce said. 

“The underlying bill and a slew of dangerous amendments are a vicious assault on the health of our families and our communities. And, as if that weren’t bad enough, some House Republicans have decided to further derail the process by trying to force a vote on a symbol of hate that deserves no place on our public lands.”

The bill cut funding for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) by 9 percent from current levels, on top of the 20 percent cut the agency has absorbed since Republicans took control of the House in 2011. 

It would block the Obama administration’s upcoming limits on power plant emissions and surface-level ozone, as well as a rule defining which waterways it can regulate and Department of Interior hydraulic fracturing restrictions. 

“The fact remains that polluters and their allies in Congress will do everything they can to slash funding for environmental protections,” League of Conservation Voters Legislative Director Alex Taurel said.

“Their radical agenda threatens to roll back the clock on the American people, back to a time when polluters could threaten our clean air and water with impunity. We are calling on Republican leaders to go back to the drawing board to craft a bill that protects our environment and the health of our families.”

The bill included smaller cuts to the U.S. Forest Service and the Fish and Wildlife Service, along with provisions blocking Endangered Species Act listings for some animals. 

Republicans increased funding for wildfire prevention and some Native American programs, but overall their bill spends $246 million less than current levels and $3 billion less than President Obama requested for 2016. 

Democrats and the administration had slammed the bill, with EPA administrator Gina McCarthy saying Tuesday it would “threaten the core work of the agency.”

But it was the Confederate flag flap that brought it down on Thursday, a fact not lost on environmentalists.

“This spending bill is finally drowning under the weight of its own extremism,” Friends of the Earth campaigner Lukas Ross said. 

“Apparently the only thing that matters more to House Republican leadership than sacrificing American’s air and water is defending the legacy of slavery. We can only hope that this bill stays dead and buried.” 

Tags Appropriations Environmental Protection Agency Friends of the Earth Gina McCarthy League of Conservation Voters Sierra Club

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