WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. House lawmakers voted to stall new air quality standards and stop the protection of natural areas in the Grand Canyon watershed today, as they considered amendments to their 2016 spending bill for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Interior. The underlying spending measure, which could see a vote Thursday, cuts the EPA budget by 9 percent and uses policy riders to block a range of environmental protections — from the Clean Water Rule to the Clean Power Plan.
In all, the House considered 17 amendments today, rejecting 15 intended to lessen its harm to the environment and approving two that made it worse.
An amendment by Rep. Donna Edwards (D-Md.) to remove a provision in the spending bill that effectively blocks new standards for ozone, or smog, was rejected.
The House narrowly adopted an amendment by Rep. Cresent Hardy, (R-Nevada) to stop the creation of new national monuments in specific counties in California, Wyoming, Utah, Oregon, New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado and Nevada. The proposed monuments targeted include the Grand Canyon Watershed National Monument and Otera Mesa in New Mexico.
Environment America’s Anna Aurilio issued the following statement in response:
“Slashing funds for critical programs that help keep our air and water clean is bad enough. Using a spending bill to block popular environmental protections is even worse.
“No one should have to worry that the air they breathe will make them sick. But if the House succeeds in blocking more protective air quality standards, it will be especially bad news for kids, the elderly, and people with asthma.
“The Grand Canyon is the pride of America, but the Colorado River that runs through it is threatened with toxic mining, logging and development. This is just one of the spectacular natural areas that we should protect for future generations, not hand over to special interests for short-term gain.
“This spending bill is a full-scale assault on our treasured waters, the health of our families, and the safety of our climate. House lawmakers should reject this terrible legislation.”