SEEC: Instead of addressing default crisis or jobs, GOP pushing unprecedented back-door attack on public health, environment (UPDATED)

Jul 25, 2011 Issues: Climate Change, Energy, Environment, Water

WASHINGTON, DC – The House of Representatives Sustainable Energy & Environment Coalition (SEEC) blasted this week’s House Republican agenda, which does not yet call for consideration of a bipartisan solution to prevent a default crisis, or to create American jobs, but instead will see the House GOP try to use a federal spending bill to overturn important pollution controls and public health protections.

(Update: This afternoon 25 members of Congress - members of SEEC,  the Congressional Progressive Caucus, and other House Democrats - spoke out on the floor against H.R. 2584, and effectively delayed its consideration for one day.)

In coming days the House will consider H.R. 2584, which would make deep cuts to funding for federal agencies that protect America’s air, water, lands, and wildlife, and contains an unprecedented number of policy riders that would cripple existing laws like the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and Endangered Species Act. Such riders do not directly address federal spending and are typically forbidden from inclusion in appropriations legislation, however House Republicans have included more than three dozen riders in H.R. 2584. SEEC said these special-interest riders break the House GOP’s pledge to legislative by regular order.

SEEC leaders – co-chairs Reps. Jay Inslee (D-WA) and Steve Israel (D-NY), and vice chairs Reps. Rush Holt (D-NJ), Paul Tonko (D-NY), Jared Polis (D-CO), Gerry Connolly (D-VA), and Chellie Pingree (D-ME) – released the following joint statement on behalf of the 48-member coalition:

“Both parties and houses of Congress should be focused on preventing a default crisis, and on creating jobs in a competitive 21st century economy. But instead, this week the House will consider H.R. 2584 - an unprecedented back-door attempt to roll back essential pollution controls and public health protections in favor of bigger profits for the country’s worst polluters. This is a low mark for the 112th Congress that has already seen the GOP majority preserve giveaways to Big Oil and advance legislation to overturn common sense energy efficiency standards, slash clean energy innovation, and carve loopholes in important environmental statutes.

“H.R. 2584 would overturn 40 years of bipartisan progress protecting the clean air and water on which all Americans depend, and the lands and wildlife that Americans treasure. The American people reject the false choice between a prosperous economy and a sustainable environment, which we’ve proven can go hand in hand. SEEC calls on the Congress to reject this bill.”

Earlier this year SEEC led the charge in the House against radical anti-environmental policy riders that the GOP sought to include in legislation to prevent a government shutdown. In that debate SEEC was joined by President Obama and other congressional Democrats who argued that policy riders – many of them the same as the riders that appear in H.R. 2584 – do not address federal spending and do not belong in a spending bill. While most riders were dropped in those negotiations, House Republicans have attached an even greater number of them to H.R. 2584, including provisions to prevent federal efforts to reduce toxic air pollution from certain sources; to end federal efforts to preserve clean water; to prohibit the federal government and states from increasing vehicle fuel efficiency to reduce U.S. oil dependence and fuel costs; to cease protections for certain endangered species; and to allow America’s dirtiest power plants to continue to emit unlimited carbon pollution.

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The Sustainable Energy & Environment Coalition (SEEC) is a coalition of forty-eight Democratic members of the House of Representatives that was founded in January 2009 to be a focused, active, and effective coalition for advancing “policies that promote clean energy technology innovation and domestic manufacturing, develop renewable energy resources, and create green collar jobs throughout the product supply-chain, and polices to help arrest global warming and protect our nation’s clean air, water and natural environment.”  SEEC is co-chaired by Reps. Jay Inslee (D-WA) and Steve Israel (D-NY). SEEC vice chairs are Reps. Gerry Connolly (D-VA), Rush Holt (D-NJ), Chellie Pingree (D-ME), Jared Polis (D-CO), and Paul Tonko (D-NY).