In Federal Spending Bill, Christmas Comes Early for Polluters, Oil and Gas Industry, and Wall Street High Rollers

For Immediate Release

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Brett Hartl, Center for Biological Diversity, (202) 817-8121
Angela Bradbery, Public Citizen, (202) 588-7741
Rich Bindell Food & Water Watch, 202-683-2457

In Federal Spending Bill, Christmas Comes Early for Polluters, Oil and Gas Industry, and Wall Street High Rollers

WASHINGTON - The U.S. House of Representatives passed a 2015 omnibus spending bill today larded with dozens of riders and funding cuts that favor corporate profits over protections for people, their health, wildlife and the country’s environment.

Included in the 1,600-page bill are provisions prohibiting the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating lead ammunition that puts people and wildlife in danger; prohibitions on regulations for mountaintop-removal mining; a halt in funding to save endangered sage grouse from extinction; rollbacks of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act; and even restrictions on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s ability to require healthier vegetables in food assistance for low-income families.

“There is a pretty clear pattern in this bill — special interests take precedence over the interests of people and the environment,” said Brett Hartl, endangered species policy director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Workplace safety, environmental protection, labor rights, children’s nutrition — they all take a hit in this bill. These riders and funding cuts read like a holiday wishlist for profiteering interests like Wall Street, the National Rifle Association, the oil and gas industry, and mining companies. But the American public gets a big lump of coal.”

Other provisions in the bill block federal wildlife officials from requiring stream buffers to protect salmon in the Pacific Northwest, cut funding for President Obama’s “green climate fund” to help fight global warming, and strip requirements for mandatory rest periods for the trucking industry.

“With this bill, Republicans have made clear their plan for the next Congress. They will hold critical legislation hostage in an attempt to undermine public protections and environmental safeguards on behalf of corporate interests,” said David Arkush, director of Public Citizen's climate program. “Senate Democrats and the president should stand up to them, not give in.”

Since the Republicans took control of the House in 2011, they have repeatedly attacked nearly every proposal designed to protect public safety, human health, clean water, endangered species and the climate. Most of these policy riders have failed until now.

"This spending bill is yet another back-room budget deal that undermines democracy,” said Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch. “It's a corporate giveaway that allows wealthy donors to drastically increase their contributions to national political committees while industry continues to write its own rules, execute its legislative agendas, and eliminate protections for public health and the environment."

“It’s no secret that rich, powerful and profit-hungry special interests are having their way in the Republican Party,” said Hartl. “What’s puzzling about this bill is why the Democratic leadership that still controls the Senate has given up the farm. President Obama needs to veto this bill, and Congress should stay in session through the holidays to pass a bill that funds the government without sacrificing public health and safety and the environment."

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At the Center for Biological Diversity, we believe that the welfare of human beings is deeply linked to nature - to the existence in our world of a vast diversity of wild animals and plants. Because diversity has intrinsic value, and because its loss impoverishes society, we work to secure a future for all species, great and small, hovering on the brink of extinction. We do so through science, law, and creative media, with a focus on protecting the lands, waters, and climate that species need to survive.

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