“H.R. 2584, with its deep cuts in important environmental and natural resource programs and amazing array of special interest riders and funding limitations, falls far short of meeting our responsibilities to protect and wisely use the resources of the earth.”
-Congressman Jim Moran, 8th District of Virginia
I am a proud American whether I’m home in New York, at school in Pennsylvania or traveling in the Philippines. When I read about a new bill bound for the House of Representatives, I was shocked and upset. H.R. 2584 is an appropriations bill “for the Department of the Interior, environment, and related agencies for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2012, and for other purposes.”1
The bill will prevent the Endangered Species Act from adding any new species to the list. It will remove funding for and protection of grey wolves and big horn sheep. Furthermore, the bill prevents the EPA from using funding to ” modify, cancel, or suspend the registration of a pesticide… in response to a final biological opinion or other written statement” about the harmful effects of the pesticide on an endangered species or its surrounding habitat. It will open up one millions arces around the Grand Canyon for mining!
But maybe animals aren’t very important. What about humans? The bill also adds a number of riders that would actually increase environmental health hazards for American citizens. The EPA’s current proposed Mercury and Air Toxins for power plants will be further delayed. The EPA’s appropriated funds cannot be used to increase water quality in Florida or modify the current ambient air quality standard, directly affecting public health. Our health. Cleaning up a river filled with toxins or dealing with sickness caused from air pollution is much more costly than monitoring and regulating the pollution in the first place. The pre-cautionary principle not only saves money but saves lives. And most of these riders do not even reduce the overall budget.
John Walke, in his commentary as a NRDC staff, writes, “Among other things, the Lummis amendment would weaken the Clean Air Act by blocking forthcoming protections to sharply cut mercury and toxic air pollution like arsenic and lead from power plants that burn coal and oil.”2
Congresmen Jim Moran’s press release voiced his frustrations with the bill as Ranking Member on the House Interior and Environment Appropriations Subcommittee. “The list of legislative riders and funding limitations in the bill is long: NEPA waivers, limitations on judicial review, and the blocking of pollution controls. Whole legislative texts have been dumped into this bill. These riders and limitations have nothing to do with deficit reduction and everything to do with carrying out an extreme ideological agenda.”3
The United States of America needs to lead to fight against environmental hazards that threaten our fellow humans and the natural world. When will the US realize large-scale mining, lax air pollution regulations, and destruction of biodiversity are things of the past? Say NO to H.R. 2584.