WASHINGTON – House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (MD) released the following statement today in observation of the 34th celebration of Earth Day:
“Earth Day serves as an important reminder each year of our duty to preserve and protect the environment for our children and grandchildren. This day highlights the progress we have made in cleaning our waterways and air, and preserving open spaces, while reminding us of how much still needs to be done.
“Unfortunately, the Bush Administration and the Republican Congress have turned back the clock on environmental progress, choosing to bend over backwards to meet the bottom-line needs of polluting industries over the health of our children. The President’s words simply don’t match his actions on the environment. While he promised to be a ‘compassionate conservative’ and takes picturesque hikes for photo-ops, he has proposed and supported policies that are undoing decades of hard work to preserve our environment for future generations.
“The President’s ‘Healthy Forests’ Initiative could allow damaging logging and road-building in old-growth forests. His ‘Clear Skies’ Initiative discards the Clean Air Act and would allow power plants to increase their emissions of smog, soot, and mercury pollution. And the Administration has ended an effort to substantially reduce toxic mercury levels, endangering the health of children and pregnant women.
“One in four people in America live within four miles of a major toxic waste site on the ‘Superfund’ list, which is dedicated to cleaning up major sites of industrial pollution. Yet this Administration has abandoned the bipartisan principle of the ‘polluter pays’ to fund this successful program, shifting billions of dollars onto the American taxpayer.
“In stark contrast, Democrats put forward a budget blueprint this year that would have made our environment a priority. Unlike the Republican budget, the Democratic budget reinstates the ‘polluter pays’ principle and fulfills promises to help farmers and ranchers protect and enhance natural resources. The President and House Republicans also ignored clean water needs by cutting $822 million from important programs, which Democrats reinstated.
“Earth Day is a reminder of our obligation to preserve and protect the environment for our children. Today, Democrats encourage our Republican friends to join us in supporting balanced environmental policies, and curtail their damaging policies which have turned back the clock on our environment.”