In addition to mounting a "horrific" assault on life-saving social safety net programs like Medicaid and Medicaid, the GOP-crafted budget resolution passed by 51 Republican senators late Thursday also lays the groundwork for "drastic cuts" to programs that help shield the nation's land, air, and water from exploitation by big polluters.
"This is the wrong budget for our health, environment, and kids"
—Jennie Olson, Environment America
"Adding insult to injury," 51 Republicans also teamed up with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) to thwart an amendment to their budget that would have barred drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR).
In a statement on Friday, Jennie Olson of Environment America said the GOP's decision to kill the amendment—crafted by a group of Senate Democrats—opens the pristine refuge to "irreversible damage...just so corporate polluters can make a profit."
"This is the wrong budget for our health, environment, and kids," Olson concluded. "With the strong support of the American public, we must fight to ensure that this short-sighted provision to authorize oil and gas development in the iconic Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is not a part of any final budget reconciliation package."
Environmental groups were also quick to note that oil and gas exploration in the ANWR poses risks not just to the refuge and its inhabitants, but also to the Arctic Ocean, "where an oil spill could cause irreversible harm if development is allowed to proceed," said Earthjustice president Trip Van Noppen.
"Drilling in the Arctic Refuge is not a budget issue, and should not be part of the budget reconciliation process. This is a blatant attempt to use the budget reconciliation process to pass a divisive and controversial proposal that would lead us in the wrong direction on climate," Van Noppen concluded. "Sacrificing our public lands and waters to benefit the oil and gas industry is both environmentally and fiscally irresponsible."