Democrats push environmental policies in $259.5B budget package

Democrats push environmental policies in $259.5B budget package

The House added a number of environmental measures to the budget Friday, voting to block the Trump administration from drilling in the arctic or rejecting grants for projects and studies tied to climate change. 

The measures were included in a $259.5 billion spending package that passed with a 224-189 vote.

Lawmakers voted on a series of amendments to the budgets for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of the Interior on Thursday and Friday, seeking to block funding from being used to implement a number of Trump administration rollbacks.

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The language includes measures to block a new policy allowing hunting tactics that make it easier to kill bear cubs and wolf pups in Alaska.

Another measure would block the administration from implementing its changes to the National Environmental Policy Act, a bedrock environmental law that green groups have said President TrumpDonald John TrumpWhite House sued over lack of sign language interpreters at coronavirus briefings Wife blames Trump, lack of masks for husband's coronavirus death in obit: 'May Karma find you all' Trump authorizes reduced funding for National Guard coronavirus response through 2020 MORE is gutting. Trump rolled back the law last week, calling the act, which requires a thorough environmental review of major projects, the “single biggest obstacle” to construction.

The legislation passed by Democrats also blocks drilling in both the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) and the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska (NPRA).

The Trump administration has sought to open more than 80 percent of the NPRA to drilling, while the wildlife refuge was opened for drilling through the 2017 tax cut legislation.

House Democrats have repeatedly worked to block drilling in the ANWR, passing legislation in September that was never taken up by the Senate. 

The legislation includes other measures with a more bipartisan agenda, including an increase in funding to replace lead pipes and language to ensure the EPA will continue with its plans to regulate cancer-linked PFAS chemicals in drinking water.

Lawmakers also voted down a Republican effort to allow importation of elephant or lion hunting trophies taken in Tanzania, Zimbabwe or Zambia.