Appropriations Bills and the Environment

by Audrey Fleming

Since the approval of the budget on Feb. 9, Congress began writing the dozen appropriations bills that are likely to be apart of one giant spending measure. In 2015, the Obama administration adopted a landmark rule aimed to increase protections for smaller streams and wetlands, which are crucial to the country’s drinking water and wildlife; the bill basically restated the Clean Water Act of 1972. Farmers complained to Scott Pruitt, head of the EPA and he is now working on an alternative option to appeal to more commercial interests. The Obama Administration approved two rules to decrease emissions of methane; the EPA would regulate emissions from oil and gas wells; the Interior Department would require oil and gas companies to control venting and flaring from existing wells on public lands. The House and Senate have made attempts to rewrite these rules, which could extremely effect clean air and climate. The Sage grouse, a bird who’s numbers are decreasing, who are being denied endangered species protections from the House and Senate. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke believes that this plan is too kind to the bird and too harmful for the oil and gas companies, therefore he wants to end it. Lisa Murkowski, chairwoman of the Senate interior and environment appropriations subcommittee, is looking to propose an amendment that would weaken protections against the destruction of trees in the Tongass National Forest.

What will be the cost to our environment if these proposals are passed? How badly is our climate, air quality and water access going to decrease? Our environment is at risk under these proposals by our lawmakers. In all the effects of the Obama Administration to help the environment, it is troubling that all of that could be taken away.

“The Dirty Little Deals That Would Foul the Environment.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 19 Feb. 2018, www.nytimes.com/2018/02/19/opinion/republican-environment-policy.html.

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4 thoughts on “Appropriations Bills and the Environment

  1. Historically, these processes are commonplace in American politics. First, the incoming administration tries to distance itself from its predecessor’s policies, especially if the two administrations are of different ideologies. Second, members of Congress have been known to sneak “little” extra things into important bills in order to benefit themselves or their constituencies. However, in modern times I’m not sure we’ve ever seen such blatant harmful provisions which would be so detrimental to the environment. Of course, Trump and his allies are trying to reverse any Obama-era rule or regulation, but some of these reversals are actually harmful to the environment and could cost American citizens. As part of the bigger picture, I’m wondering if these things will just get swept under the Capitol’s carpet. With the larger national discussion happening about school safety, I cannot see Americans getting seriously concerned about the state of the environment and legislation pertaining to it. This would obviously benefit the Republicans attempting to push these bills through which would in turn harm our environment. Unfortunately, I think the only way this does not happen is if the Democrats can stand together in opposition. But, with these bills having such an important position overall I cannot see the Democrats being able to stop them from passing.

  2. I talked about the environmental effects the leaking off of gas flares would have as well as the economic repercussions last week. In my opinion their is no upside to allowing the gas companies to waste millions of gallons of our precious national resources while simultaneously polluting our atmosphere. Releasing toxic greenhouse gases like methane into the ozone only increasing our nations already large carbon footprint on our planet. It seems to me, as Cathrine said, the Trump administration is dead set on removing any and all policy action emplaced by the Obama administration with little regard to the future cost.

  3. The current administration’s vendetta against Obama era policies is not the first of its kind, as Catherine suggested, but it does seem more excessive than others. This should really not come as a surprise to Americans, given Trump’s historically loud disapproval of seemingly every decision made by the Obama administration. Unfortunately, I do agree with Catherine’s assessment of the prioritization of issues concerning environmental politics. I find it hard to believe that commonplace citizens will actively take interest in legislation being considered or even instituted that is not as immediately pressing as the issues of gun control and school safety. This does create an opportunity for the administration to slide in regulations that will not be as heavily criticized in the media because they seem so unimportant in comparison to those deemed to be more relevant.

    Aubrey’s questions, posed at the end of her post, seem to be the same questions posed every time legislation of this type is discussed. It also seems to be that each time the questions are silently answered by politicians’ actions, and the answer to each of those questions is “I don’t care.” These proposals blatantly portray the priorities of the administration and of the legislators defending them, passing them, and promoting them to the public, and it is clear that environmental conservation is not among them.

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