U.S. House Budget Largest Assault on Public Health, Clean Air & Clean Water in Years

For Immediate Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today the U.S. House of Representatives passed a funding bill that amounts to the biggest attack on clean air and clean water in recent history, according to Environment Maine.

The bill, which was passed by a vote of 235-189, bars the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from taking any action to clean up dangerous carbon dioxide and other global warming pollutants from coal-fired power plants, oil refineries and other industrial pollution sources. The bill also blocks EPA from restoring Clean Water Act protections for many of the nation’s most vulnerable waterways, including those that feed into drinking water supplies for more than 117 million Americans.  Additionally, the bill guts funding to the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which uses offshore oil and gas drilling royalties to preserve land around the country, including at Acadia National Park.

The list of attacks on Mainers’ health and environment only grew as polluters’ allies in Congress added more dangerous amendments attacking our air, water and open spaces.  

“Maine families have a fundamental right to clean air and clean water, but this bill is the biggest assault on both in recent history,” said Nathaniel Meyer, Environment Maine Field Associate. “In economic times good or bad, it’s critical that our government protect children’s health and our environment. We’re counting on the Senate and President Obama to defeat this dangerous proposal.”

Environment Maine warned that the House-passed funding bill, also called a Continuing Resolution, would do the following:

  • Threaten the health of Maine children, elderly citizens and other vulnerable populations by blocking EPA from enforcing the Clean Air Act and cleaning up coal-fired power plants and other large sources of dangerous carbon dioxide pollution. The EPA estimates that clean air regulations saved more than 160,000 lives in 2010 alone. Environment Maine urged Congress to build upon this success, not tear it down.
  • Threaten Clean Water Act protections for the streams that flow into many of Maine’s treasured waterways and feed the drinking water supplies for 454,360 Mainers.
  • Put Mainers’ drinking water and waterways at risk of sewage and urban runoff pollution by severely cutting funding to Clean Water State Revolving Funds.  Maine would suffer a funding cut of $10,825,045, which would not only harm our health and environment but is estimated to cost our state 301 jobs.
  • Implement the largest percentage cut in EPA’s overall budget in 30 years, severely threatening the Agency’s ability to ensure that all Mainers have clean air to breathe and clean water to drink.
  • Endanger efforts to ensure that Acadia National Park is protected for families to enjoy now and for generations to come, through cuts to the Land and Water Conservation Fund.  Cuts to the Department of Interior would limit resources for environmental education programs for youth, park maintenance and public safety in an array of beloved national parks and wildlife refuges across the country.
  • Waste energy and homeowners’ money by eliminating future funding for home weatherization assistance. In the last two years, the Weatherization Assistance Program has renovated 4,242 homes in Maine to lower families’ energy bills and reduced our consumption of energy.  Weatherizing Mainers’ homes is one of the cheapest and easiest ways to save money, cut energy use, and reduce dangerous pollution.

“We are dismayed to see a majority of the House of Representatives abandoning our core environmental and public health programs. This atrocious anti-environmental bill attacks the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act, wipes out future funding for commonsense home weatherization programs, and threatens to impose the largest overall percentage cut to EPA’s budget in 30 years,” said Meyer. “At the same time, we applaud Maine’s members of Congress, Representatives Michaud and Pingree, who had the courage to stand up for our environment and public health by opposing this dangerous proposal.”

The funding bill will now be sent to the U.S. Senate for consideration, and Environment Maine encouraged Senators Snowe and Collins to oppose the bill.

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Environment Maine is a state-wide, citizen-based environmental advocacy group that works to protect clean air and water, preserve Maine’s natural heritage, and move the state toward a clean energy future.  www.environmentmaine.org