Congressman Moran’s Prepared Remarks on FY’12 Interior & Environment Appropriations Bill
Washington, DC - Congressman Jim Moran, Ranking Member on the House Interior and Environment Appropriations Subcommittee, delivered the following remarks on the House floor on H.R. 2584, Fiscal Year 2012 Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations.
Prepared remarks below:
“Mr. Chairman, this is a sad day for the environment and America’s great natural and cultural heritage. H.R. 2584, with its deep cuts in important environmental and natural resource programs and amazing array of special interest riders and funding limitations, falls far short of meeting our responsibilities to protect and wisely use the resources of the earth.
“The bill before the House today is $2.086 billion, or 7 percent below the FY 2011 appropriations level and $3.818 billion, or 12.7 percent below the President’s request. It is even $324 million below the level of H.R. 1 as passed by the House in February.
“Given the subcommittee’s exceedingly low 302(b) allocation, I recognize the difficulties Chairman Simpson of the subcommittee and Chairman Rogers of the full committee faced in crafting the bill and I appreciate their efforts to protect funding for American Indian programs. I only wish that protection could have extended to other important portions of this bill.
“As bad as the funding in the bill is, what is most disappointing is the scope and extent to which the majority has filled this bill with extremist legislative riders and funding limitations.
“This bill is short on needed funds and long on anti-environmental riders.
“H.R. 2584 is not so much a spending bill as a wish list for special interests. Oil companies, cattle grazers and miners, as well as those who pollute our air and foul our water, all have their special provisions tucked away in this bill. It is a dump truck of provisions for special interests.
“In addition, this bill picks up where H.R. 1 left off. It includes numerous and deep cuts in conservation and environmental protection programs while the extractive or consumptive uses of our public lands are shielded from cuts and given a pass from complying with our nation’s landmark environmental laws.
“We continually hear from the majority that the pain of budget cuts has to be shared by all but in this bill they have definitely chosen winners and losers.
“The bill continues the majority’s assault on the Environmental Protection Agency with deep cuts proposed in many EPA programs. After the EPA budget was cut by 16 percent in the current fiscal year, the majority is now proposing a further reduction of 18 percent in the agency’s budget for next year. Cuts of nearly 40 percent are made to the Clean Water and Safe Drinking Water grant programs. When the majority says it wants to rein in the EPA, what they really are reining in is the ability to protect clear air and clean water.
“I am extremely disappointed at the majority’s decision to prohibit funds for Endangered Species Act (ESA) listings and critical habitat designations. These are the vital first steps needed to begin the recovery process for 260 species currently at risk of extinction. Under the guise of sending a signal to the authorizing committee, this bill attacks the very heart of the Endangered Species Act.
“Wildlife programs overall are hard hit by this bill. State and tribal wildlife grants are cut by 64.5 percent, multinational species conservation by 21 percent, and cooperative endangered species conservation by 95 percent. Even funding for the National Wildlife Refuge System will be cut by 7.5 percent under the bill.
“Our national parks and forests, wildlife refuges, wilderness areas, and other conservation units deserve better than what the bill provides. We have a responsibility to protect these for future generations. As stewards of these magnificent resources that were passed down to us, we must and can do better. Spending reductions like the 78 percent cut to the Land and Water Conservation Fund and the 33 percent cut to the National Landscape Conservation System will place at risk some of our most precious resources.
“I would also note that this bill is about more than our natural resources and the environment, and while the cultural activities and institutions are a small portion of the bill they are a vital part of our communities. They do enhance our economy and our quality of life. Yet, these programs and activities would receive significant cuts under H.R. 2584 as well.
“I am also struck by the contradictions contained in H.R. 2584. Here are just two examples. On one hand the bill allocates millions of dollars to restore the Everglades in Florida, yet the majority includes a funding limitation that will permit the pollution of the Everglades. The bill also includes funding to deal with the continuing fallout from uranium mining on the Navajo Indian Reservation, yet it includes language that will expose Grand Canyon National Park and the millions of Americans who depend on the Colorado River for their drinking water to the well-known dangers of uranium mining to a foreign-owned mining company.
“The list of legislative riders and funding limitations in the bill is long: NEPA waivers, limitations on judicial review, and the blocking of pollution controls. Whole legislative texts have been dumped into this bill. These riders and limitations have nothing to do with deficit reduction and everything to do with carrying out an extreme ideological agenda.
“Repealing environmental regulations does not save money, it costs money. Keeping toxins out of our air and water is a great deal cheaper than cleaning up the damage or dealing with the adverse health effects. Preventing the Deepwater Horizon disaster would have been far cheaper than cleaning it up.
“Each rider or funding limitation seems designed to benefit one industry or another. These provisions have become the new earmarks; with 39 such provisions already in the bill and more will be proposed to be added.
“While this bill rewards businesses and industries that seek to delay or undermine environmental protections, it penalizes others that seek to do the right thing. As just one example, American Electric Power recently announced it will stop work on a low carbon coal-fired power plant in light of the pullback in regulating emissions related to climate change.
“With the funding cuts and special interest provisions, it is no wonder that the Statement of Administration Policy on H.R. 2584 runs 5 pages and carries a veto threat. I concur with the Administration’s views on the bill and under general leave I will submit the Administration’s statement.
“We owe it to our constituents and our communities to protect the air we breathe and the water we drink; to protect public health from the dangers of mercury, arsenic, and lead and to be good stewards of the abundant natural and cultural heritage passed downed to us.
“As President Lyndon Johnson noted in 1964:
“If future generations are to remember us with gratitude rather than contempt, we must leave them something more than the miracles of technology. We must leave them a glimpse of the world as it was in the beginning, not just after we got through it.”
“Mr. Chairman, H.R. 2584 falls far short of our responsibilities to present and future generations and as such I must oppose the bill. I reserve the balance of my time.”