Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators are poised to vote on a series of anti-environmental amendments to a federal budget resolution. The budget resolution—and any amendments attached to it—is not binding, yet literally dozens of amendments were filed that would weaken many of the nation’s cornerstone environmental protections. Anna Aurilio, director of Environment America’s Washington, D.C. office, issued the following statement:
“The American people send their leaders to D.C. to protect their interests. It couldn’t be clearer that more asthma attacks, more polluted water, and threats to our treasured landscapes are not in Americans’ best interest. Yet instead of working to advance solutions to our most urgent environmental challenges, we’re going to be working — alongside those senators who have been champions of the environment — to beat back these reckless attacks.
“These attacks have nothing to do with the budget and everything to do with checking as many items as possible off big polluters’ wish list.
“Senators should vote down any amendments that undermine fundamental protections for our natural heritage, our air, and our water.”
BACKGROUND ON SEVERAL KEY ANTI-ENVIRONMENTAL AMENDMENTS:
• 173, 174, 283 and 458: Attacks on the Clean Air Act that would weaken or block the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to limit carbon pollution from power plants and other major sources. We are already feeling the very real impacts of global warming. Scientists warn that the recent increase in extreme weather has been fueled in part by global warming, and in the past 12 months alone, we saw intense storms, including super-storm Sandy, the worst drought since the Dust Bowl, and wildfires raging in the West.
• 322 and 380: These amendments are an attack on critical protections for our nation’s waterways. Amendment #322, introduced by Senator Barrasso (Wyo.), instructs the Obama administration to abandon proposed protections for headwater streams and wetlands under the Clean Water Act, putting more than 200,000 miles of streams across the country at risk. Amendment #380 supports excluding these waterways from the Clean Water Act entirely. The Clean Water Act, one of our nation’s core environmental laws, should protect all of America’s waterways, and we should be able to swim, fish, and drink from them for generations to come.
• 494: An amendment advancing construction of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, which would deepen our dependence on the dirtiest oil on the planet, oil from tar sands. Tar sands development is an environmentally destructive practice and one of the greatest threats to our climate. Full production of all oil from tar sands would add 240 billion tons of carbon dioxide into our atmosphere, effectively making it impossible to keep global warming within safe limits. Increasing pipeline capacity is critical for oil companies to achieve their plan to triple tar sands production over the next 10 years. As one oil company executive admits, “Unless we get increased [market] access, like with Keystone XL, we’re going to be stuck.” According to EPA, the global warming impact of building the Keystone pipeline is the equivalent of over 4 million cars or 6 coal-fired power plants.
• 544: An amendment that would take away the President’s authority to protect America’s treasured landscapes. The Antiquities Act has been used by almost every president since Theodore Roosevelt first used it to protect Devils Tower in Wyoming. Since then it has protected more than 280 million acres of parks, forests and special places across the country including the Pacific Remote Island Marine off the coast of Hawaii protected by President George W Bush in 2009, Arches National Park in Utah protected by President Hoover. The Antiquities Act does not acquire any new federal lands but is used to permanently protect existing public lands and cultural sites.
• 369, 370, and 372: These amendments would encourage more oil and gas drilling in America’s oceans as well as on lands near our parks, in our forests, and along our waterways. These reckless attempts to open the coastlines in the Arctic as well as off the Virginia and North Carolina shorelines to dirty oil drilling jeopardize marine wildlife, essential fisheries and tourism-based coastal economies. Catastrophic oil spills like the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico have shown us that oil drilling remains a dirty and dangerous business. The vibrant fishing and tourism economies of coastal states, and the fragile ecosystems of the Arctic, are far too precious to risk another oil spill. Fracking in our forests and near our parks poses grave threats to drinking water for communities across the country, disrupts critical habitats and pollutes our air.
• 516: This is an attack on America’s clean energy future that would stifle our progress in cutting dangerous pollution and creating new clean energy jobs. With the support of the Production Tax Credit, wind energy now powers the equivalent of more than 14 million homes across the country, cuts global warming pollution equivalent to taking 13 million cars off the road each year, supports nearly 500 manufacturing facilities across 44 states, and leverages annual private investment of $15 billion over the past 5 years. This amendment would not level the playing field for energy sources, but would reward polluting energy like oil and gas that have enjoyed decades of tax breaks and government subsidies, while squashing incentives for clean, renewable wind energy.