House Democrats Send Letter to Speaker Boehner: Pass the Budget Without Axing the Environment

The White House restated its opposition today regarding the Republican budget bill riders that would harm the environment.

"As the administration has made clear, the funding bill should not be used to further unrelated policy agendas, and we remain opposed to riders that do that, including as it relates to the environment," said Clark Stevens, a White House spokesman.

The House GOP’s fiscal year 2011 spending plan blocks funding for the Environmental Protection Agency’s implementation of greenhouse gas rules, as well as rules to curb mercury and other emissions from cement kilns, and for federal policies related to mountaintop removal mining, among others.

Environmental groups were dismayed by an Associated Press report that the White House would compromise on some EPA cutbacks.

Many of the most respected environmental groups have called on the White House to stand firm against provisions that would thwart EPA.

"We would like the president and the White House to send a very clear, unequivocal message on where the president stands," Natural Resources Defense Council spokesman Ed Chen told The Hill. "What we want him to say is, ‘No riders, period.’ We want him and members of Congress to stand up and defend public health and our health."

League of Conservation Voters President Gene Karpinski said, "President Obama should squash any rumors and make crystal clear that he would veto a continuing resolution that includes riders to block the EPA from protecting public health and holding polluters accountable."

Democrats’s Letter to Speaker Boehner (R-OH)

53 Democrats signed a letter that was just sent to Speaker Boehner, spearheaded by six leaders of the House Sustainable Energy & Environment Coalition (SEEC) – Reps. Inslee, Israel, Holt, Connolly, Polis and Pingree. 

The Democrats have supported the recent short-term "clean" Continuing Resolutions (CR) to fund the federal government, but strongly oppose the inclusion of anti-environmental policy "riders" in the forthcoming CR to fund the government for the remainder of Fiscal Year 2011.  

March 31, 2011

The Honorable John A. Boehner
Speaker of the House of Representatives
H-232, U.S. Capitol Building
Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Speaker Boehner,

As Democratic Members of Congress who voted for a recent, clean Continuing Resolution (CR) to continue funding for the government, and who would like to avoid a shutdown of essential government operations, we write to strongly urge you not to include anti-environmental policy "riders" in the long-term CR for Fiscal Year 2011 (FY11).

The appropriations process and the authorizing process are two important, but distinct, congressional responsibilities.  We feel strongly that these policy provisions, which would significantly jeopardize the protection of American communities and ecosystems, should not be included in a bipartisan budget bill. 

H.R. 1, which was passed by the House of Representatives in February 2011, contained 19 anti-environmental riders that would negatively affect air, water, and environmental quality, through a wide range of provisions, including preventing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from proposing, implementing or enforcing any regulations on stationary sources of greenhouse gas emissions, limiting toxic emissions, preventing the EPA from restoring certain waterways, and preventing the Administration from protecting wilderness areas and certain endangered species.

These anti-environmental riders would roll back 40 years of bipartisan efforts to strengthen environmental protections.  As you know, the U.S. Senate refused to consider this legislation.

The two recent short-term CR’s that were passed into law did not include these policy riders.  The most recent of these measures passed the House on February 19 and the Senate on March 17, and will keep the government funded until April 8.  
54 House Republicans voted against this short-term CR, and we were among the House Democrats that voted for one or both of these measures, which also passed the Democratically-controlled Senate.  We believe that the next, long-term CR will need to attract similar bipartisan support.

The push amongst some in the Republican Conference to include anti-environmental riders in a long-term CR is greatly concerning.

While these riders do not reduce federal spending, they would precipitously alter 40 years of environmental statute. A budget bill is not the appropriate venue to make significant policy changes without going through the proper hearing and markup process in committees of authorization. 

We would like to work with you to find common ground on a CR to fund the government for the remainder of FY11, but we would have very strong reservations about supporting a long-term CR that limits the Administration’s authority to protect air, water, and environmental quality, and its Supreme Court-mandated duty to protect public health.


Reps. Jay Inslee, Steve Israel, Rush Holt, Jared Polis, Gerry Connolly, Chellie Pingree, Chris Van Hollen, Jim Moran, John Sarbanes, Allyson Schwartz, Ben Ray Luján, Mike Quigley, Mike Doyle, Susan Davis, Shelley Berkley, Lloyd Doggett, Lois Capps, Fortney Pete Stark, Martin Heinrich, Adam Schiff, Gary Ackerman, Theodore Deutch, Eliot Engel, Steven Rothman, Louise Slaughter, Jim Langevin, Diana DeGette, Andre Carson, Jackie Speier, G.K. Butterfield, David Price, Kurt Schrader, Peter Welch, Brad Sherman, John Carney, David Wu, Chris Murphy, Bill Pascrell, David Cicilline, Anna Eshoo, Mike Thompson, Niki Tsongas, Carolyn McCarthy, Brian Higgins, Gary Peters, Debbie Wasserman Shultz, Peter Defazio, Joe Courtney, Tim Bishop, Carolyn Maloney, Ed Perlmutter, John Larson, Jim Himes

Sam Ricketts
Executive Director
Sustainable Energy & Environment Coalition (SEEC)
2329 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

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Comments on “House Democrats Send Letter to Speaker Boehner: Pass the Budget Without Axing the Environment”

  1. Sally Leong

    We must be vigilant and protect the environment. The nuclear disaster in Japan is just one example of how a poorly regulated industry which was not prepared for a two fold natural disaster has gone very wrong, causing long term environmental destruction, endangering the health of the Japanese people, and costing hundreds of billions of dollars to clean up and control not to mention the economic damage to the country’s industrial and agricultural sectors.

  2. John H. Arens

    Backtracking on environmental rules and regulations by clipping the wings of the EPA or in any other manner regardless of whether it is in the name of reducing the deficit is akin to canceling garbage pickup services for residences and businesses in order to save money. Do we really want to do that?


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