Congressional threats to air, water will return in the fall
By Lauren Pagel
August 5, 2011
This week, Congress adjourned for their month long August recess without voting on the Interior and Environment appropriations bill that included dozens of anti-environmental amendments. These amendments threatened wild lands, clean air, clean water and public health. Many of you spoke out against this unprecedented assault, and for that I thank you.
Unfortunately, the fight is not over. When Congress returns in the fall, they will once again turn to the appropriations process and the anti-environmental riders that now seem to always go along with that process.
One vote on the House floor last week give me some hope that it is possible for science to prevail over politics. The spending bill as proposed by Republicans would only have allowed species to be taken off the list of endangered species, not added. This would have put truly endangered species at risk of extinction. When an amendment was offered to strike this awful language from the bill, it passed with bipartisan support Democrats and Republicans voting together to make sure species that are endangered get the protection they need.
The bill still includes language that would prohibit the Obama administration from moving forward to protect the area around the Grand Canyon from uranium mining. Earthworks and our partners will be working hard to make sure that language doesn t become law, and that the Canyon and its waters are protected for future generations.
The Obama administration has the power to protect the Grand Canyon now by moving as quickly as possible to withdraw the full 1 million acres around the Canyon from new mining claims for 20 years. While August is normally a more relaxed month here in DC, I hope that the Department of the Interior does not stop working until the withdrawal is finally complete.