A week of attacks on communities and the environment
By Lauren Pagel
July 15, 2011
This week, the House of Representatives launched at all out attack on communities and the environment. In vote after vote, they chose the profits of businesses over the health of our water and air.
On Tuesday, the spending bill for agencies like the Interior Department and Environmental Protection Agency was voted out of committee. This bill contains nearly too many anti-environmental amendments to count amendments that have nothing to do with appropriating spending for government agencies.
There are three amendments that those of us here at Earthworks are particularly concerned about. One is an amendment that would prohibit the Department of the Interior from withdrawing the lands around the Grand Canyon from mining. The second is an amendment that would stop the EPA from issuing rules to expand the definition of waters of the United States under the Clean Water Act -- a rule that is badly needed to protect ephemeral streams from mining waste and other pollution. And last, but not least, an amendment that would prohibit the EPA from requiring important financial assurances for hardrock mines to ensure that mining companies, not taxpayers, clean up the mess after a mine shuts down.
On Wednesday, the House Natural Resources Committee passed HR 1904, a land exchange bill that would pave the way for a giant copper mine in Arizona to destroy sites sacred to the San Carlos Apache and other area tribes. Later that day, the full House of Representatives voted in favor of HR 2018, a bill that would gut the EPA s ability to protect clean water. This legislation is particularly worrisome for communities facing mountaintop removal coal mining or large-scale hardrock mines like the one proposed in Alaska's Bristol Bay.
It will be up to the Senate and President Obama to make sure none of these egregious assaults on the environment become law. The Obama administration recognizes the importance of clean water and has already threatened a veto of HR 2018. Stay tuned to our action list and this blog for more updates as these bills continue to move.