Nathan Willcox,
Environment America

Senate Defeats Massive Attack on Public Health and Environment

For Immediate Release

WASHINGTON, D.C – Today the U.S. Senate defeated S. 1786, which was billed as an extension of transportation funding but actually contained massive attacks on environmental and public health protections, while eliminating funding for pedestrian and bicycling programs.  

“By defeating this outrageous polluter-backed bill, the Senate chose to stand up for the health of our families,” said John Cross, Transportation Advocate with Environment America. 

The bill has numerous provisions to remove environmental protections. It prevents the Environmental Protection Agency from issuing final toxic pollution standards for cement plants, incinerators, and boiler facilities. These provisions alone would cost tens of thousands of lives, according to the White House. 

The REINS Act, the language from which is also included in the bill, would prevent scientists, public health and safety professionals from developing public health and environmental safeguards based on the facts—instead it would turn those decisions over to Congress. 

The bill also eliminates the Transportation Enhancement program, the only dedicated federal source of funding for pedestrian pathways and bicycle transportation, and undermines the environmental review process for major highway and rail projects.

“Rather than letting the EPA do its job to protect public health and our environment, supporters of these proposals want to give the biggest polluters a free pass to poison our air and water—that will cost lives, not create jobs,” said Cross. “This assault on our nation’s health and environment is far from the transportation bill we need to reduce our oil dependence and move America forward.

“American families cannot afford a federal transportation plan that keeps us hooked on oil—let alone a bill that takes a giant leap backward, undermining our key environmental protections and endangering our families’ health for years to come. We need a bill that will set an ambitious course to reduce oil consumption, and increase our investment in public transportation and bike and pedestrian infrastructure, not a massive assault on our nation’s health and environment,” Cross concluded.