LETTER: Environmental Community Regarding H.R. 3354 Amendments

September 7, 2017

Dear Representative,

On behalf of our millions of members and supporters, we urge you to oppose H.R. 3354. This bill does not responsibly or adequately fund the federal government or the many programs and thousands of civil servants tasked with implementing our nation’s landmark environmental laws, laws that protect our health, air, climate, water, oceans, wildlife, and treasured American landscapes.

In advance of floor votes on amendments being considered to the Interior and Environment; Commerce, Justice, and Science; Financial Services and General Government; and Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education divisions of H.R. 3354, please find voting recommendations for some of the currently submitted amendments.

                                            

We urge NO votes on the following amendments:

Division A: Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies

  1. Bacon-Gosar #113: This amendment would decrease funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) by $4M, adding to an overall cut of 32% to this critically important conservation program with the stated intent of increasing funds to delist species protected under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). These particular LWCF funds are used by the US Fish and Wildlife Service for the protection of our National Wildlife Refuges, including innovative easement programs that keep farmers and ranchers sustainably working their land while preserving key habitat and open space from subdivision and development. Rather than attempting to increase funding to remove ESA protections for listed species at the expense of LWCF, Congress should be increasing funding for both LWCF and for recovery of threatened and endangered species.
  2. Biggs-Smith #42: This amendment cuts over $10 million from EPA’s Environmental Programs and Management account (EPM).  EPM contains the core health and environmental activities that define EPA’s mission. EPA already faces staggering cuts and Congress should avoid even further undermining its ability to keep air clean, water drinkable and communities healthy.
  3. Palmer #7: This amendment would defund the very successful Diesel Emission Reduction Act which protects human health by reducing harmful particulate and NOx emissions from diesel vehicles. The program has bipartisan support, has a record of pollution reductions, especially in areas of poor air quality and should be continued.
  4. McKinley #62: This amendment would Transfer funds within the Forest Service to specifically prioritize wood harvesting.
  5. Long-Gosar-Westerman-Costa #65: This amendment prevents EPA from requiring even very dangerous industrial animal production facilities to report the quantities of dangerous substances that they release into air, even in emergencies, and even when such releases endanger neighbors. The amendment also prevents EPA from enforcing the law with respect to these facilities. People who live near these facilities deserve the same protections as people who live near other sources of industrial pollution.
  6. Young #56: This amendment would block implementation of critical rules regulating non-subsistence hunting in Alaska national preserves. At present, the National Park Service does not allow aggressive, scientifically indefensible “predator control” sport-hunting practices including spotlighting denning bears and cubs as they hibernate. The agency arrived at these regulations through an open, public process in 2015 and the technical advice of wildlife managers. This amendment will set back efforts to clarify appropriate National Park Service jurisdiction.
  7. Young #55: This amendment would prohibit the Department of the Interior from changing the current placer mining plans of operations as it pertains to revegetation within the area. This amendment would stop the Department of the Interior from performing reclamation of vegetation and wildlife habitats that fall under the criteria that pertain to specific gold mines in Alaska.
  8. Westerman-Gosar #45: This amendment would block funding to implement the much-needed update to BLM Onshore Order 4. Finalized in November 2016, the measure would update and improve standards last issued in the late 1980s, ensuring that oil extracted from public and tribal lands is accurately measured for royalty purposes.
  9. Biggs #36: This reckless amendment defunds EPA’s Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS). The IRIS program enables EPA to identify and characterize hazardous chemicals that are found in workplace settings, consumer products, and as contaminants in our air, water and soil. Defunding this program will deprive EPA of a critical tool for helping businesses, regulators, and the public to make informed decisions to prevent harm from chemicals in the places we live, learn, work, and play.
  10. Goodlatte-Perry-Thompson-Shuster #22: This amendment would limit EPA’s key authority to protect clean water in the 64,000 square mile Chesapeake Bay watershed which spans 6 states and the District of Columbia. This authority is critical to ensure full Clean Water Act protections for over 18 million residents and to the success of the historic federal-state collaboration to restore the Chesapeake Bay.
  11. Burgess #14: This amendment blocks EPA from utilizing the Title 42 Special Pay Program – an important program that allows agencies to offer higher pay in certain specialized fields and provide recruitment and retention bonuses. It is important for agencies to have pay flexibilities and other tools and incentives available so that they are able to complete in the labor market for top-notch science and medical talent. Taking this authority away from EPA is yet another attempt to weaken the effectiveness of our environmental laws by preventing EPA from meeting its staffing needs.
  12. Blackburn #12: This amendment would further slash funding for critical agencies and programs that protect our air, land, water, wildlife and public health. Funding for conservation comprises barely over 1 percent of the federal budget, and that meager percentage has been dropping for years; Congress should be investing in these programs which support communities and local economies across the country.
  13. Palmer #8: This amendment attempts to defund EPA’s criminal law enforcement activities. These include issuing warrants or arresting criminals for violating criminal laws, including methamphetamine laws, in their presence. The amendment is intended to make it easier for polluters to get away with the most egregious criminal environmental activities that cause even the most serious risks to human health.
  14. Perry #119: This amendment is another attempt to roll back the Clean Air Act and block any potential plan to address climate change. Instead of listening to the national security experts, faith leaders, scientists, energy innovators, health professionals and many others who are sounding the alarm on climate change and have implored our nation’s elected officials to support action, this amendment simply seeks another way to say “no.”
  15. Pearce #158: This amendment would block the implementation of a much-needed update to BLM Onshore Order 3. Finalized in November 2016, the measure would update and improve standards last issued in the late 1980 by setting common standards for oil and gas measurement points on public and tribal lands in order to ensure accurate royalty payments.
  16. Pearce #155: This amendment would block a common sense policy that requires the oil and gas industry to reduce venting, flaring and leaks at industry operations on public and tribal lands by deploying methane mitigation technology. Blocking this rule would harm public health, waste hundreds of millions of dollars of natural gas, and reduce revenue to the federal government and Western states.
  17. Young #148: This amendment prevents implementation of the rule issued in 2015 to increase safety standards for exploratory drilling in federal waters in the Arctic Ocean. This provision undermines efforts to ensure that if and when oil and gas exploration is conducted in the Arctic Ocean, safeguards are in place that are designed for the exceptionally challenging conditions in this region. These safety regulations were promulgated after the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster to help prevent a similar disaster in the Arctic Ocean.
  18. Grothman #134: This amendment would block the latest life-saving ozone standards entirely, threatening millions of vulnerable Americans like children, the elderly and those suffering from asthma.
  19. Lamborn #131: This amendment would devastate conservation and recovery efforts for listed species any time the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service fails to meet its obligation to complete a 5-year review of the species’ status as required by the Endangered Species Act (ESA) which the agencies are often prevented from completing on time due to lack of funding or competing priorities. This amendment would leave nearly 1,000 species of species currently awaiting 5 year reviews in a state of limbo, because they would retain their ESA status, but all federal funding for recovery efforts, law enforcement efforts, and consultations would be blocked.
  20. Lamborn #130: This amendment would block federal funding for the threatened Preble’s Meadow Jumping Mouse under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), thwarting recovery efforts for this western species, which continues to experience habitat loss and face other threats throughout its range. It would eliminate crucial recovery programs for the mouse that require federal funding, such as Habitat Conservation Plans, and leave stakeholders uncertain about whether projects can go forward without violating the ESA.
  21. Emmer-Nolan #121: This amendment threatens the iconic Boundary Waters area in Minnesota, an area known nationally for it’s beauty, recreation and unique ecosystem. A study currently underway will help guide future decisions on whether these public lands should be excluded from the federal mining program. The study has bipartisan support. The Emmer amendment would prohibit funding of the study, making Minnesota’s public lands and national treasure less protected than public lands in all other states.
  22. Perry #117: This amendment prevents the Department of the Interior and EPA from any surveying, mapping, or collection of remote sensing data using any unmanned aircraft system. While agencies must use new technology carefully and responsibly, this overly broad language could have a chilling effect and limit emerging options that allow more effective, less intrusive, and potentially safer ways to monitor wildlife and dangerous environmental conditions.
  23. Smith-Gianforte #105: Congress included citizen suit provisions in the Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, and the ESA to ensure enforcement of critical public health and environmental protections, when agencies failed to act. However, this amendment disallows recovery of legal fees for settlements and would prevent many communities from being able to get legal representation to enforce these laws, leading to more polluted air and toxins in our drinking water.  This amendment will also unnecessarily prolong litigation, adding burdens to agencies and courts.
  24. Mullin #101: This amendment seeks to block EPA from implementing its Methane Pollution Standard, the first-ever limits on methane pollution from the oil and gas sector (the largest emitter of methane) and would block future efforts to regulate existing sources of methane. EPA’s standards require proven, low-cost safeguards that will yield net climate benefits of $170 million in 2025 and will generate significant public health benefits as well by curbing smog- and soot-forming Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) emissions and hazardous air pollutants.
  25. Mullin #100: This amendment would command the federal government to blind itself to the economic costs of climate change. These costs, which affect businesses, families, governments and taxpayers, could reach hundreds of billions of dollars through rising health care costs, destruction of property, increased food prices, and more.
  26. Norman #64: This reckless amendment reduces EPA’s budget by $1.9 billion, similar to the Trump Administration’s rejected budget proposal. This figure is widely viewed as unrealistic and will multiply the public health risks already imposed by chronic underfunding.
  27. Cramer #60: This amendment would block funding to implement the much-needed update to BLM Onshore Order 5. Finalized in November 2016, the measure would update and improve standards last issued in the late 1980s, ensuring that gas extracted from public and tribal lands is accurately measured for royalty purposes.
  28. Speier-Denham #181: This amendment discards a nearly 15-year long effort by the NPS to ensure all recreationists can enjoy the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Golden Gate is the only national park unit that allows off-leash dog walking and this plan limits it to specific areas in order to provide recreation opportunities for all visitors. Preventing the implementation of this plan will cast aside over a decade of public input.
  29. LaMalfa #146: This amendment would prohibit implementation of a requirement of an Endangered Species Act (ESA) biological opinion to protect native salmon in California. The ESA protections targeted in this amendment seek to safeguard imperiled salmon by evaluating moving salmon above Shasta dam to reduce or avoid temperature dependent mortality.

Division C: Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies

  1. Zeldin #85: This amendment would allow fishing for Atlantic striped bass in federal waters between Montauk, New York and Block Island, Rhode Island by preventing the National Marine Fisheries Service from enforcing the current moratorium on fishing in this area. Fishing for striped bass in these waters has been prohibited since the 1990s to prevent overfishing and to allow the stock to rebuild. Permitting fishing in these waters will endanger the health of the stock and the sustainability of the fishery.
  2. Byrne-Flores #40: This harmful amendment would leave states without common-sense federal coordination and resources that states and industry need to move forward on shared ocean management priorities. NOAA is the lead ocean agency and hampering its ability to take on state and regional ocean management challenges does nothing but harm coastal communities, fishermen, and local businesses.

Division F: Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies

  1. Huizenga #44: This amendment attempts to derail a critical rule that protects workers against exposure to silica. This rule will produce immense benefits in terms of reduced exposure to carcinogens, decreased mortality and respiratory health

We urge YES votes on the following amendments:

Division A: Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies

  1. Buchanan #51: This amendment would restore funding for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) budget to list species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) to the FY 2017 level.  This funding is needed to help FWS make progress on its 7 year work plan that prioritizes over 350 species for ESA listing decisions; inadequate funding will result in further delays in listing decisions for many species leading to at least longer recovery times or at worst more extinctions of species.
  2. Cicilline #38: This amendment increases operations funding for national parks. These funds could support enhanced staffing for routine and small maintenance projects, resources for scientific work and to accommodate record visitation.
  3. Heck-Turner-Blumenauer-Smith-Courtney-Keating #53: This amendment moves internal DOI funds to increase funding to the Historic Preservation Fund, which has been historically underfunded. HPF was created by Congress in 1976 to provide funding to State Historic and Tribal Historic Preservation Officers (SHPOs). SHPOs and THPOs are the boots on the ground in the effort to preserve the nation’s historic and cultural resources. They identify and document historic sites, provide technical assistance, training and guidance to communities engaging in federal preservation projects and provide competitive grants to identify and rehabilitate historic structures.
  4. Grijalva-McEachin #86: This amendment increases funding to EPA’s Environmental Justice Program. Low income and minority individuals often suffer the most exposure to hazardous pollution and environmental contaminants. This program improves health and quality of life in our most vulnerable communities.
  5. Beyer #1: This amendment would strike a dangerous rider that exempts certain discharges of dredged or fill material from Army Corps’ permitting under the Clean Water Act. The Act already exempts these kinds of activities from such permits, but requires permitting when the impacts to waterways would be more harmful. This rider would have the effect of nullifying Congress’s direction to subject those non-exempt discharges to pollution control officials’ review.
  6. Beyer #2: This amendment would strike a dangerous and undemocratic provision that aims to shield the Trump administration’s repeal of the Clean Water Rule and the drinking water protections it provides from public and legal scrutiny. For example, the administration could ignore Clean Water Act and Administrative Procedure Act requirements to meaningfully consider public comment. It could also interfere with the courts’ ability to review if the withdrawal is “arbitrary or capricious,” and would create a chaotic mess around implementation, compliance, and enforcement of the Clean Water Act itself.
  7. Ellison-Polis-Lee-Cartwright-Lipinski #19: This amendment would strike an anti-environmental rider from the bill, removing delays to the right to safer air quality – and even the right to know whether the air is safe to breathe.
  8. Lowenthal-Peters-Carbajal-Langevin-Beyer-Pingree-Bonamici-Lieu #66: This amendment removes a harmful rider from the Interior and Environment Appropriations bill that undermines the ability for federal agencies like the Bureau of Ocean Energy (BOEM) to coordinate with states and local communities to solve their ocean management challenges. Sec. 435 undermines the ability of BOEM to consult with states and ocean users like fishermen on offshore energy development and sand and gravel mining projects.
  9. Jackson Lee #28: This amendment is a limitation amendment to denote the significance of programming and ensure funding for National Park Service preservation work and National Heritage Areas would not be used elsewhere.
  10. Jackson Lee #27: This amendment prohibits the use of appropriated funds to eliminate the Urban Wildlife Refuge Partnership or programs that are for the reforestation of urban areas.
  11. LoBiondo-Beyer #20: This amendment would prohibit the use of geological and geophysical (G&G) surveys for oil and gas exploration and production in the North Atlantic, Mid-Atlantic, South Atlantic or the Straits of Florida planning areas. Atlantic G&G would take a significant step towards opening the Atlantic Ocean to oil and gas leasing. Also, numerous scientific studies indicate marine natural resources–including fish, whales, sea turtles, shellfish, and even zooplankton–can be harmed by seismic airgun blasting used to conduct these surveys.
  12. Carbajal #6: This amendment would protect the Pacific Ocean from hydraulic fracking and acid well stimulation treatment. This amendment would protect the a global epicenter of ocean life that includes 519 species of fish, nearly 150 species of seabirds, more than 30 marine mammal species (whales, dolphins, seals), five species of sea turtles, and more than 5,000 species of invertebrates.
  13. McEachin #144: This amendment would prevent the Department of the Interior from preparing a new offshore drilling five-year plan that includes lease sales before 2022. This amendment would protect the $95 billion generated in GDP and nearly 1.4 million jobs supported annually through fishing, recreation and tourism along the Atlantic Coast.
  14. Knight #122: This amendment applies to the sand mining contracts numbered CA20139 and CA22901, which authorize extraction of approximately 56,000,000 tons of sand and gravel from the Federal mineral estate in lands located in Soledad Canyon adjacent to the City of Santa Clarita, California. This amendment prohibits funds from being allocated to administer the Bureau of Land Management’s contracts numbered CA20139 and CA22901.
  15. Polis #88: This amendment ensures continued operation of EPA’s regional offices. These critical offices allow for tailored outreach to specific geographies and the Americans who live there. EPA should be allowed to maintain the localized knowledge and services that help these regions with unique environmental challenges.
  16. Polis #76: This amendment would keep federal lands from being transferred to private owners, that may violate any laws such as the Antiquities Act by not providing funding for such a transfer. This Amendment serves to keep public lands in public hands.

Division C: Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies

  1. Bonamici #138: This amendment would increase funding for NOAA Harmful Algal Bloom research by $5 million, and decreases funding for the program by the same amount. This highlights that Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) are a serious issue that require more resources. HABs in the U.S. are estimated to have an average annual cost of $82 million due to impacts on public health, tourism, and the seafood industry and happen in every coastal and Great Lakes state. Funding at NOAA supports forecasting, response and mitigation of HABs to improve our understanding and decrease impacts on everything from tourism to fisheries.

Division D: Financial Services and General Government

  1. Kildee #42: This amendment would prevent enforcement of Trump’s recent reversal of Obama-era restrictions on US support at multilateral development banks for coal financing.

 

                                            

Additionally, we want to note our disappointment by the choice of an offset to boost funding for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Funding FEMA is critical, particularly as the severity and intensity of extreme weather events are made worse by climate change. Disaster relief work however should not come at the expense of other unrelated and valuable programs, particularly those that aid in reducing carbon pollution. The bill makes further cuts to the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Program (ATVM). ATVM has a solid track record of helping manufacturers like Ford modernize their facilities and build cleaner cars and has created or saved tens of thousands of jobs.

While not all undersigned groups work on every issue discussed in this letter, we thank you for your consideration of these positions, and please let us know if you have any questions.

Sincerely,

Alaska Wilderness League

American Bird Conservancy
Center for Biological Diversity

Clean Water Action

Climate Hawks Vote

Defenders of Wildlife

Earthjustice

Environment America

Environmental Law & Policy Center

Friends of the Earth

GreenLatinos

Hip Hop Caucus

Interfaith Power & Light

League of Conservation Voters

National Parks Conservation Association

Natural Resources Defense Council

Ocean Conservancy

Oceana

Restore America’s Estuaries

Sierra Club

Southern Environmental Law Center

Waterkeeper Alliance

The Wilderness Society

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