Saturday, July 30, 2011

Riders on the storm.

The debt ceiling news dominates the media these days. We are all worried about a potential default and a looming recession. Some parts of me have accepted the coming of more bad days; I’ve even forgiven the politicians acting like kids, playing chicken, and waiting to the last minute to do anything for political leverage.

In a bipartisan system, this kind of tug of war is inevitable; (I'd take this over a dictatorship any day). Faced with upcoming elections, being the first to give-in could mean political suicide. The cats in Washington have grown too accustomed to their power and prestige, letting go of their seats is un-comforting. I’m more than happy to let them keep their dirty politics, but all I ask is that they do the right thing at the end – whoever it is and whatever the outcome they deem best.

But it seems my hopes are high and my naivety too strong. I should have seen the wrecking ball from a mile away.

Under the heavy smoke of our debt crisis, our environmental policies are under attack. Republicans on the hill and their Tea-bagger legislators attached 19 riders to the spending bill to block protections for clean air, clean water, wilderness lands and wild life.

These riders don’t reduce spending by one penny, but they do block the government from following environmental laws. One provision would permanently weaken air pollution standards from offshore oil and gas drilling and make some sources of air pollution exempt from the Clean Air Act. Another would block the Department of Interior from enforcing safeguards designed to protect streams from coal mining pollution.


Frances Beinecke, Most Anti-Environment House of Representatives in History Tries to Do More Damage Curbing Pollution, Health and the Environment, U.S. Law and Policy (July 19, 2011).

These rider legislations have nothing to do with spending, they are an “end-run around Congressional procedures.”
“Riders generally are not subjected to hearings or full debates. And by adding riders, Republicans are trying to take the spending bill hostage. They are saying to the Senate, "Go along with these anti-environmental policies, or we’ll keep the government from getting funded."”
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Police march three people accused of kidnapping to a press conference at the state attorney general office. The kidnappers, who were not part of an organized crime ring, were trying to ransom a relative for a family inheritance.
Photo - David Maung
July 4, 2007
Tijuana, Mexico




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Luckily, the Administration blocked the first round of these legislation riders. Now, there are 38 more on the table waiting for a Vote on August 1. If passed, we are looking at a giant leap backward into the dark days of environmental regulation. Not only will we see more pollutants in our water, air, and land, we will also see more high impact businesses rise. Simply put, we are competing in the wrong market for the next decade. Everyone is innovating around sustainability, we are looking at how to burn more fuel. China is investing billions into a circular economy model knowing they cannot sustain the current rate of growth and cope with environmental problems. Japan, Canada, and a host of European countries are arming up their sustainability developments as well.

Here we are, taking the opportunity continuing our old ways and pushing back progress.

In an economic climate like this one, we are just digging out graves. The worst part is this is all happening before our eyes; yet under a secret, dark, and incredulous scheme by the people we elected and trusted.

I wonder what they would argue in defense of their agenda? Probably economic stimulus and business incentives - quick bucks and temporary fixes.

Here is a list of these "riders." (NRDC)

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Clean Water

A rider in the Energy and Water appropriation (Sec. 109) offered by Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ) would block the Army Corps of Engineers from clarifying which streams and wetlands are protected by the Clean Water Act. Blocking the Corps would threaten those waters, many of which are sources of drinking water and help with flood control.

* A rider in the Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 116) offered by Rep. Mike Simpson (R-ID) would forbid the National Parks Service from enforcing boating regulations in the Yukon-Charley National Preserve in Alaska.

* A rider in the Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 432) offered by Rep. Simpson would block the Department of Interior (DOI) from enforcing safeguards designed to protect streams from pollution from surface coal mining.

* A rider in the Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 433) offered by Rep. Simpson would prevent the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Army Corps of Engineers and DOI from limiting pollution and the destruction of streams from mountaintop removal coal mining.

* A rider in the Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 434) offered by Rep. Simpson would block the EPA from strengthening oversight of coal ash disposal. The EPA was acting in response to the massive release of toxic coal wastes in Tennessee in 2010.

* A rider in the Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 435) offered by Rep. Simpson would permanently block EPA from clarifying which streams and wetlands are protected by the Clean Water Act. Blocking the EPA would threaten those waters, many of which are sources of drinking water and help with flood control. This is a counterpart to the provision in the Energy and Water appropriation, since the EPA and the Army Corps jointly enforce aspects of the Clean Water Act.

* A rider in the Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 436) offered by Rep. Simpson would permanently block the EPA from strengthening oversight of the use of water by power plants. Power plants use enormous amounts of water for cooling, and then discharge it.

* A rider in the Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 438) offered by Rep. Simpson would permanently block the EPA from limiting pollution from runoff from logging roads.

* A rider in the Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 439) offered by Rep. Simpson would require a 90-day review by Congress before the EPA could strengthen limitations on pollution from urban stormwater systems.

* A rider in the Interior and Environment appropriation (Title V) offered by Rep. Simpson would permanently exempt pesticide application from the Clean Water Act.

* A rider in the Interior and Environment appropriation offered by Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) would block the EPA from limiting pollution from agricultural runoff in Florida.

* A rider in the Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 456) offered by Rep. Joann Emerson (R-MO) would block the EPA from protecting wetlands in areas that have experienced severe flooding.

* A rider in the Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 459) offered by Rep. Steve Latourette (R-OH) would discourage states from having strict standards for the release of ballast water from ships by withholding grant money. Ballast water is a major source of invasive species.
Clean Air

A rider in both the Agriculture appropriation (H.R. 2112, Sec. 749) and the Military Construction appropriation (H.R. 2055, Sec. 417) offered by Rep. Bill Flores (R-TX) would allow the federal government to purchase dirtier fuels for its vehicles, waiving current law. The rider says the government can buy fuels like liquid coal even though current law forbids purchasing alternative fuels that emit more carbon pollution than conventional fuels do.

* A rider in the Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 428) offered by Rep. Simpson would prevent the EPA from limiting pollution from livestock production under the Clean Air Act.

* A rider in the Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 429) offered by Rep. Simpson would prevent the EPA from requiring the reporting of greenhouse gas emissions from manure management systems.

* A rider in the Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 431) offered by Rep. Simpson would prevent the EPA from limiting carbon pollution from power plants and other stationary sources.

* A rider in the Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 441) offered by Rep. Simpson would permanently require the EPA to accept certain state plans for enforcing the Clean Air Act even when the EPA determines the state plans will not reduce pollution as the Act requires.

* A rider in the Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 443) offered by Rep. Simpson would permanently weaken regulation of air pollution from offshore oil and gas drilling activities, particularly in Alaska. Among other things, the provision exempts certain sources of air pollution from the Clean Air Act.

* A rider in the Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 444(c)) offered by Rep. Simpson would prevent the EPA from limiting certain kinds of pollution under the Clean Air Act and other statutes. The rider is written in such a way that its precise intent and impact are unclear, but it is based on the incorrect premise that the EPA requires jurisdictions to reduce air pollution below natural background levels.

* A rider in the Interior and Environment appropriation offered by Rep. John Carter (R-TX) would block the EPA from limiting toxic air pollution from cement kilns.

* A rider in the Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 453) offered by Rep. Steve Austria (R-OH) would block the EPA from setting new mileage standards for cars and from allowing California to do so.

* A rider in the Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 454) offered by Rep. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) would block the EPA from updating limits on coarse particle pollution.

* A rider in the Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 461) offered by Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK) would block the EPA from limiting ammonia pollution from poultry and livestock facilities.

* A rider in the Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 462) offered by Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) would delay the EPA from limiting toxic pollution from power plants. The rider would also delay the EPA from limiting cross-state air pollution.
Energy Efficiency

A rider in the Energy and Water appropriation offered by Rep. Mike Burgess (R-TX) would block the enforcement of the standard requiring light bulbs to be more efficient.
Wildlife

[A provision in the Interior and Environment appropriation under the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Resource Management title offered by Rep. Simpson (in Title I) would bar all new listings of threatened and endangered species as well as critical habitat designations for currently listed species, but would allow species to be de-listed.] The House voted 224-202 for an amendment by Rep. Norm Dicks (D-WA) to remove this rider.

* A rider in the Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 119) offered by Rep. Simpson would permanently prohibit the courts from reviewing any delisting of gray wolves under the Endangered Species Act in Wyoming and in the upper Midwest.

* A rider in the Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 503) would prevent the EPA from implementing any measures recommended by federal wildlife experts to protect endangered species from toxic pesticides. This would spell disaster for species, including Pacific Salmon, that are already on the brink of extinction due to pesticides and other harms.

A rider in the Energy and Water appropriation offered by Rep. Jeff Denham (R-CA) would block the reintroduction of Chinook salmon into the San Joaquin river, contrary to law.

A rider in the Energy and Water appropriation offered by Rep.Doc Hastings (R-WA) would block the Army Corps of Engineers from implementing measures to save salmon through better dock design on the Columbia and Snake rivers.

A rider in the Energy and Water appropriation offered by Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) would block enforcement of a law that prohibits use of explosives in water projects run by the Army Corps of Engineers.

* A rider in the Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 447) offered by Rep. Ken Calvert (R-CA) would prohibit EPA from modifying, suspending, or cancelling pesticide registrations because of endangered species impacts.
Lands

* A rider in the Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 118) offered by Rep. Simpson would make it more difficult to challenge DOI land use decisions in the courts.

* A rider in the Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 409) offered by Rep. Simpson would make it more difficult for courts to require the Forest Service to update its land use plans.

* A rider in the Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 437) offered by Rep. Simpson would permanently limit the ability of citizens to challenge Forest Service land use decisions in the courts.

* Two riders in the Interior and Environment appropriation (Secs. 120 and 442) offered by Rep. Simpson would eliminate nearly all protections for bighorn sheep in the western United States for five years.

* A rider in the Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 445) offered by Rep. Simpson would permanently prevent the DOI and the Forest Service from declaring lands near the Grand Canyon off limits for uranium mining.

* A rider in the Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 446) offered by Rep. Simpson (Sec. 446) would require the Forest Service to stop its development of Travel Management Plans in California until it considers opening trails to off-road vehicle use. The provision would also require more Forest Service roads to be open to off-road vehicles.

* A rider in the Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 124) offered by Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) would block the DOI from protecting wilderness-quality lands.

* A rider in the Interior and Environment appropriations bill (Sec. 415) offered by Rep. Simpson would exempt grazing permits from environmental reviews.
Climate Adaptation

A rider in the Agriculture appropriation (Sec. 755) blocks the Agriculture Department (USDA) from carrying out its Policy Statement on Climate Adaptation. The rider by Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) would prevent the USDA from even assessing what impacts climate change might have on farmers, foresters and other landholders.

A provision in the Homeland Security appropriation (H.R. 2017, Sec. 707) offered by Rep. John Carter (R-TX) prevents the Department of Homeland Security from running its Climate Change Adaptation Task Force.
Nuclear Energy

A rider in the Energy and Water appropriation (Sec. 505) offered by Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ) prevents the government from shutting down the proposed nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain in Nevada.
Oil Drilling

* A rider in the Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 121) offered by Rep. John Culberson (R-TX) requires the DOI to report to Congress quarterly on which permits for offshore oil and gas exploration or drilling were denied.
Toxics

* A rider in the Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 450) offered by Rep. Dennis Rehberg (R-MT) would block the EPA from enforcing rules to limit exposure to lead paint.

* A rider in the Interior and Environment appropriation (Sec. 455) offered by Rep. Rehberg would block the EPA from requiring insurance to finance possible Superfund cleanup at high-risk mining sites.

From: NRDC. Anti-Environmental Budget Riders, A significant assault on health and environmental protection is underway in Congress. (last revised 7/18/2011)


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