Daniel Reilly, 202-225-3130
WASHINGTON, DC - House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD) spoke in opposition to the FY 2012 Interior-Environment Appropriations bill on the House Floor today:
"The American public was concerned mainly about two things in this last election: jobs, trying to get opportunities for themselves and their children and young people to earn a living, and the deficit that confronts this country. Those were the two items that they were very focused on and concerned about, and I think almost everybody on this floor shares their concerns. I got no message from any voter that I ought to come to congress and undermine the air, water, and land that they survive on, recreate on, and rely on for the quality of their lives. Not one constituent, whether he or she voted for me or against me, said that we should undermine the protections of our land and water and air. Not one. However, that is what we're dealing with today: not jobs, not deficits, but undermining the integrity of our air, our water, and our land.
"I rise, therefore, in strong opposition to this bill, which puts some of our nation's most precious natural resources at severe risk. This bill slashes funding for the Environmental Protection Agency by nearly 20%, after a year in which its funding already declined by 16%. Americans want the environment protected. They don't want that effort undermined, which will mean higher risks of dirtier air, unsafe water, and carbon pollution in our atmosphere. No American said that that was what they wanted when they talked to me. This bill also includes a rider that would defund the listing of endangered species and habitats—a true failure of environmental stewardship.
"Perhaps worst of all, this bill comes with 39 separate anti-environment riders that cater to some of our nation's most powerful special interests. Now, maybe I missed it. Maybe there is an American who said, ‘protect the special interests and undermine our environment,’ but maybe I missed talking to them. These riders would endanger and exploit our public resources, including the Grand Canyon and Colorado River, and the quality of our nation's air and water, for the private gain of just a few. The Land and Water Conservation Fund, which reinvests money we gain from offshore oil and gas drilling into protecting our public lands, is cut 78% from the current year’s funding in this bill. Communities waiting for funding for new sewer and drinking water systems will find a 40% cut from current levels. No American asked me for that.
"In 1995, the very first vote the new Republican majority lost came on a bill like this—one that attempted to slash the EPA and enact a wish-list of special-interest priorities. But there was one major difference: that failed bill had just 17 anti-environmental riders. This one has 39. The year is different, but the policy is the same. These provisions do nothing to control spending; they are end-runs around laws to protect our environment. Now, as then, the wish list deserves to be voted down."