The House Interior Appropriations Bill, which we're debating in Congress this week, deals a very bad hand for the environment. Most egregiously, it guts programs like the Land and Water Conservation Fund and is loaded with policy changes that have no place in an appropriations bill.
This bill has left my constituents outraged and asking me if there is any way we can stop it. For example, the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) has done more than any other program to expand the systems of local parks, recreational green spaces and public lands enjoyed by hundreds of millions of Americans.
Congress created LWCF to be a conservation offset to the depletion of public offshore resources by oil and gas drilling, and the program is funded from a fraction of oil and gas leasing royalties. Unfortunately, year after year, much of this lease revenue has been diverted to other purposes, leaving LWCF chronically underfunded.
The President recommended full funding for LWCF, but the Chairman's mark would fund it at less than SEVEN PERCENT of this level, its lowest level in 40 years. This amount is insufficient to cover the projects included in the budget request for my state of California alone, so there is no way it can even come close to meeting the needs across the nation.
I know the allocation is tight, because I can't find a good place for an offset to try to fix this, but that doesn't make it right. I hope that I can count on my colleagues to work with the Senate to restore LWCF funding.
Beyond funding, this bill includes so many harmful legislative provisions that will endanger human health and the environment that it is hard to keep track of them all. The bill undermines EPA's ability to reduce air pollution under the Clean Air Act.
It attacks EPA's authority to limit carbon pollution from stationary sources as it is required to do by the Clean Air Act and the Supreme Court, something that does not address any budgetary issues or shrink government spending.
It undermines clean water protections, undermines standards on toxic coal ash disposal, pushes aside Clean Air Act permitting processes for drilling off of Alaska's coast, and blocks the listing of endangered species.
It would even allow uranium mining near the Grand Canyon, one of our national treasures. This would generate toxic waste that would contaminate the Colorado River, which millions of my fellow Californians depend upon for drinking water.
I could go on and on about the policy provisions in this bill that don't belong in an appropriations bill, and it seems that these aren't even enough for those on the other side of the room, based on the number of amendments. I look forward to the opportunity to vote to strike all of these riders from the bill and oppose additional efforts to legislate on this bill.
I agree with what my constituents are telling me, that we need to go back to the drawing board on this bill. This overreach to undermine our nation's environmental protections is not what the American public wants.
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