WASHINGTON, D.C.—The U.S. Senate today rejected a House-passed funding bill that included sweeping attacks on many of the nation’s core environmental and public health programs. The bill—H.R. 1, summarized below—would have blocked the Environmental Protection Agency from cleaning up a variety of dangerous pollutants, saving consumers billions of dollars annually at the gas pump through clean car standards, and protecting the drinking water supplies for more than 117 million Americans. The U.S. House passed the bill on February 19, and the Senate today rejected it by a vote of 44-56.
Despite broad public support for EPA’s work to protect public health and enforce the Clean Air Act, some Republicans have vowed to continue fighting to include many of these attacks in any longer-term funding bill.
Anna Aurilio, Director of Environment America’s Washington, D.C. office issued the following statement in response to today’s vote:
“We applaud the Senate for rejecting this all-out assault on the nation’s health and environment. American families have a fundamental right to breathe clean air and drink clean water, and we’ll be working to make sure that both are protected in a final bill.
“Americans may have voted for a lot of things in November, but they surely didn’t vote for more asthma attacks, more polluted drinking water supplies and more threats to our treasured national parks. Rather than doing the bidding of the polluters’ lobby, Congress should stand up for American families by rejecting attacks on our environment and public health.”
BACKGROUND ON H.R.1:
The U.S. House of Representatives launched an outright attack on America’s health, clean air, and clean water in the early morning hours of February 19, when it passed a funding bill (H.R. 1) that amounts to one of the most far-reaching assaults on the nation’s core environmental and public health programs in recent history. The bill would have done the following:
- Threatened the health of America’s children, elderly citizens and other vulnerable populations by blocking EPA from enforcing the Clean Air Act and cleaning up coal-fired power plants and other industrial sources of dangerous carbon dioxide pollution. The EPA estimates that clean air regulations saved more than 160,000 lives in 2010 alone, and this success should be built upon—not torn down.
- Put children at risk of learning disabilities, developmental disorders, and lower IQs by blocking the EPA from limiting mercury and other toxic air pollutants from cement kilns.
- Threatened the health of millions of Americans by stopping the EPA from updating air quality standards for coarse particulate matter (“soot”) pollution, which is linked to heart and lung disease, asthma attacks and premature death.
- Threatened drinking water supplies for more than 117 million Americans and endanger thousands of streams and wetlands across the country by blocking EPA’s ability to restore Clean Water Act protections for these waterways.
- Put Americans’ drinking water and waterways at risk of sewage and urban runoff pollution by cutting $1.4 billion in funding for the Clean Water State Revolving Funds (SRFs).
- Allowed polluters to continue dumping in and destroying the Chesapeake Bay by blocking EPA’s Bay-wide clean-up plan from going into effect.
- Put thousands of people living near coal ash pools at risk of toxic disasters like the Tennessee Valley coal ash spill by stopping the EPA from developing or issuing standards that treat coal ash as the hazardous waste that it is.
- Blocked EPA ‘s effort to help break our oil addiction by putting cleaner cars on the road, resulting in as much as $101 billion lost annually in consumer savings—$748 for the average American family—by 2030. The defunding of EPA’s clean cars program for 2017-2025 cars and light trucks would also cause as much as 465 million metric tons of extra global warming pollution to be dumped into our atmosphere every year by 2030.
- Blocked states’ ability to put cleaner cars on the road, by disabling the EPA program through which California and other states are allowed to issue state-level clean car standards.
- Endangered efforts to ensure that our national parks and other treasured places across the country are protected for families to enjoy for generations to come, by cutting the Land and Water Conservation Fund. The bill would slash the Department of the Interior by $1.4 billion, with specific attacks to the department’s ‘Wild Lands’ policy, which gives the Bureau of Land Management another tool to protect public lands based on their unique wilderness characteristics. These cuts to the Department of the Interior would also limit resources for environmental education programs for youth, park maintenance and public safety across the country.
- Threatened wildlife by eliminating Endangered Species Act protections for wolves in Idaho, Montana, and parts of Washington, Oregon and Utah, setting a dangerous precedent for allowing Congress to delist endangered species. The funding bill also eliminates measures to prevent the collapse of the San Francisco Bay-Delta, one of the most imperiled and productive ecosystems in the country.
- Threatened the health and environment of communities across Appalachia by doing a number of things to block protections against the destruction and pollution of mountaintop removal coal mining.
- Wasted energy and homeowners’ money by eliminating future funding for home weatherization assistance. In the last two years, the Weatherization Assistance Program has renovated 423,918 homes nationwide to lower families’ energy bills and reduced our consumption of energy. Weatherizing our nation’s homes is one of the cheapest and easiest ways to save money, cut energy use, and reduce dangerous pollution.
- Implemented the largest percentage cut in EPA’s overall budget in 30 years, severely threatening the Agency’s ability to ensure that all Americans have clean air to breathe and clean water to drink.
Link to this press release, here.