Congress passes budget bill free of dirty water riders

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Bart Johnsen-Harris

“In passing this clean budget bill, Congress refused to compromise on our country’s waterways.”

Environment America

Today, the U.S. House approved a finalized Energy and Water “minibus” spending package retaining protections for clean water, clean air, and a healthy environment. This was the first spending package that Congress has successfully negotiated and finalized for FY19. Bart Johnsen-Harris, clean water advocate for Environment America, issued the following statement:

“From the Great Lakes to the Chesapeake Bay, clean water matters deeply to Americans — for swimming and fishing, wildlife, and safe drinking water. Yet all year long, we have faced the spectre of the budget process being used to weaken protections for our rivers, lakes, and streams.  For today at least, we are relieved to see Congress rejecting that course by approving a budget bill without riders that roll back clean water laws.

“We can all breathe a sigh of relief that the House’s anti-environmental riders were sifted out during negotiations. One particularly alarming provision would have eliminated the Clean Water Rule, which restored federal protections to drinking water sources for 1 in 3 Americans. Another provision would have obstructed the Army Corps of Engineers’ ability to prevent water pollution by prohibiting the Corps from requiring permits for certain agricultural practices.

“While this package is not perfect, it provides a solid framework. The minibus sustains funding for critical environmental programs, and avoids the poison pill riders that would have eliminated bedrock environmental protections. The bill increases funding for the Army Corps, which will benefit water quality through the Army Corps’ important role in implementing the Clean Water Act.

“As Congress considers other spending bills ahead of its September 30 deadline, appropriators would do well to follow this model to pass a clean budget for America.”