Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Katko, Hanna threaten clean water by blocking EPA rule (Your letters)

To the Editor:

I'm writing on behalf of the Natural Resources Defense Council to call attention to the participation of Congressmen Richard Hanna (R-NY) and John Katko (R-NY) in an effort to threaten our country's clean drinking water sources — and to dismantle many other essential environmental protections. 

Congressional negotiators are facing a deadline in the coming days to reach an agreement on spending bills to keep the government from shutting down. But many Republicans, including Hanna and Katko, are making a shutdown more likely by trying to add anti-environmental provisions, known as riders, to the funding measures. These riders do not change spending levels; they are added to these bills to force through measures that cannot make it into law through normal processes. 

One rider would kill the Clean Water Rule, which is designed to help ensure the safety of the drinking water supplies for one in three Americans. Big polluters and their allies in Congress are going to great lengths to repeal the rule. This is a serious threat to millions of Americans. That includes small businesses, those who participate in a $200 billion hunting and fishing economy, and families across the nation whose households' drinking water depends on the sources the rule would protect. And it includes natural treasures of critical fresh waters such as the Great Lakes.

And this attack on the Clean Water Rule is just one of more than 100 riders Republicans have attached to must-pass spending bills. Similar riders take aim at measures to limit climate change, repeal health standards the EPA recently issued to protect Americans from smog, and prevent the Department of Energy from updating standards that make household appliances and light bulbs more energy-efficient. They take away protections for a number of endangered species, from the gray wolf to the greater sage grouse.

These are provisions that have nothing to do with spending; they're merely there to hold the operations of the government hostage to an ideological agenda. 

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-California), as well as Obama Administration officials, are working to block the riders in the budget negotiations, which are going down to the wire. 

That's the right position. 

Bringing the country to the brink of a shutdown to protect profits for corporate polluters is not good-faith negotiation, nor is it any way to run a government. Using spending bills to hold the American public hostage creates an unnecessary — and false — choice between keeping the government running and protecting the public from harm to health and to the environment. 

Anne Hawke
National Resources Defense Council
Washington, D.C.

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