Environmental groups are aghast at proposed legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives, which they claim is "larded up with giveaways to polluters and corporate donors."
The U.S. House of Representatives began debate Monday on the Fiscal Year 2012 Interior and Environment Appropriations bill. The House Appropriations Committee approved the legislation by a 28 to 18 vote on July 12, allotting $27.5 billion in spending for the Department of the Interior, the Environment Protection Agency (EPA), the Forest Service, and various related agencies.
The legislation includes an 18 percent funding cut for the EPA and a 7 percent cut for the Department of the Interior.
"The House of Representatives, led by anti-environmental Republicans, are sharpening their knives to gut key health and wildlife protections that could benefit millions of Americans," Marty Hayden, Vice President of Policy and Legislation at Earthjustice, said in a statement. "These are no small cuts; this is a complete butchering of environmental safeguards."
“Riders attached to the EPA spending bill decimate protections for air, water, lands and wildlife," he continued. "Even before this bill reached the House floor for a full debate, Appropriations committee members attached 38 riders that shred our safety net for protecting against pollution in our air and water, saving imperiled wildlife, and protecting iconic places like the Grand Canyon from uranium mining."
In its current form, the legislation would prevent the EPA from regulating a number of pollutants by gutting the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act. The bill would restrict EPA's authority to regulate coal ash disposal, exempt the timber industry from pollutant discharge permit requirements, allows pesticide applicators to spray chemicals directly into waterways, cut off funding for EPA to implement limits on mercury and other air toxics from power plants, and restricts the scope of “Waters of the U.S.” protected by the Clean Water Act.
The bill would also blocks EPA oversight of mountaintop removal mining.
Interior Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Mike Simpson (R-ID) said the committee drafted the bill to "reduce spending, create more certainty in the marketplace, and promote an economic environment conducive to job growth."
Democrats, not unexpectedly, have a different take on the legislation.
“This is the worst assault on environmental protection of any legislation ever to come to the floor of the House of Representatives,” House Appropriations environment subcommittee ranking member Jim Moran (D-VA) said, according to The Hill.