The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release
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Senate Advances Legislation to Undercut Environmental Protections

 Bills Would Let Special Interests Veto Vital Safeguards


The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee today marked up and approved two harmful deregulation bills that would make it harder to protect people and imperiled wildlife from environmentally destructive practices.

The "Regulatory Accountability Act" (RAA) and the "Regulations From the Executive in Need of Scrutiny Act" (REINS) would significantly change how federal agencies develop rules to promote the public good, including environmental protection. If these bills become law, every federal rule would have to go through elaborate cost-benefit analysis designed to favor industry over the environment, effectively giving powerful corporate interests like pesticide companies and the oil industry veto power over new regulations.

"This is a disturbing and deceptive attack on core environmental laws like the Endangered Species Act and the Clean Water Act," said Jamie Pang, endangered species campaigner and policy specialist with the Center for Biological Diversity. "Republicans know conservation laws are popular, so they use cynical bills with misleading titles to confuse the public. Their real goal is to make it almost impossible to create new protections for our air, water and imperiled wildlife."

The RAA would impose 53 new requirements in the rulemaking process, including a mandate that all major rules with an economic impact of $100 million or more go through a burdensome cost-benefit assessment and a requirement that agencies adopt the "least burdensome" approach to addressing an environmental problem.

The REINS Act seeks to transfer authority from the executive branch to Congress by giving lawmakers the final say on major regulations with an economic impact over $100 million.

"There's a good reason we have laws in place to protect people and the environment," said Pang. "If these bills become law, the consequences to human health, the environment and our endangered species will be severe."

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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