Peter Bahouth, Executive Director
February 22, 2011
Dollars and Cents Nonsense
Saturday in the early morning, the House of Representatives passed H.R.1, a spending bill, that recklessly endangers public health. The bill passed with a vote of 235-189, close to party lines. The continuing resolution (CR), if passed in the Senate and then signed into law by President Obama, would set the funding for the rest of the 2011 fiscal year, which ends September 30th, 2011. The House spending bill was packed full of amendments that block funding for key environmental safeguards such as clean air, clean water, and climate change protections. “The continuing resolution is now likely to stall as Senate Democrats assemble a plan of their own to fund the government beyond March 4th, when the existing funding measure expires,” according to an E & E News Article.
Last Monday, President Obama released his proposed budget for the fiscal year 2012. Although the President’s plan for funding would cut the deficit by a projected $1.1 trillion over 10 years, it still provides modest funding levels for many climate and energy initiatives, in contrast to the irresponsible slash-and-dash spending bill that cuts vital funds for those protective programs. The administration has shown that even in the face of tough budget decisions continued funding for the Environmental Protection Agency, Department of the Interior, and the Department of Agriculture climate programs will match or exceed fiscal 2010 levels. The proposed budget would set aside $46 million for regulatory efforts to reduce greenhouse gas pollution and implement greenhouse gas reporting requirements under the Clean Air Act.
As Congress debated EPA budget cuts and putting our health at risk, a new report was released by the Environmental Integrity Project that shows the biggest one-year increase in carbon pollution from power plants in 2010. Just a few days earlier, the American Lung Association released a poll that shows that Americans support the work of the EPA to keep our air clean. Key poll results indicate the level of concern expressed by voters regarding their right to breathe healthy air. For example, 69 percent think the EPA should update Clean Air Act standards with stricter limits on air pollution. It is also notable that 68 percent feel that Congress should not stop the EPA from updating Clean Air Act standards and a bipartisan 69 percent majority believe that EPA scientists, rather than Congress, should set pollution standards.
The EPA New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) listening sessions continue this week in Washington, DC. Last Tuesday, many of those who love clean air were out in support of EPA. Environmental organizations and environmental justice groups were heard as roundtable participants and there was plethora of supportive public comments. Those who spoke urged the federal government to set strong limits on greenhouse gas pollution from new or modified power plants and oil refineries. US Climate Action Network’s Executive Director, Peter Bahouth, spoke at the listening session to highlight the work of our member organizations and the broad consensus of support across different constituencies to preserve EPA authority. Click here for a recorded webcast of the session.
As House lawmakers debated and approved plans to block federal funding from going to the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and cut funds for the White House climate change advisor, G20 Finance ministers met and discussed work on increasing transparency in commodity markets and for implementing a financial transaction tax (FTT). Thursday was declared an international “day of action” for FTT, and thousands of activists in a multitude of countries took part.
In other energy related news, Senate Energy Chairman Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., announced Friday that he will not seek re-election in 2012.
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