Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) made the following statement in the Congressional Record yesterday, during debate on H.R. 2584, the Interior and Environment Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2012:
"I rise to oppose the underlying bill and the numerous extreme, anti-environmental riders included therein.
This bill is full of anti-environmental riders. These riders are legislative provisions that were attached to an appropriations bill because they are far too extreme to pass Congress on their own merits. Together, these riders undermine decades of progress protecting our nation's environmental heritage. They threaten the air we breathe and the water we drink.
* One of the riders in this bill stops the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from giving Clean Water Act protection to critical headwaters and streams that supply drinking water to about 117 million Americans.
* Another rider prevents the EPA from updating its stormwater discharge regulations to manage polluted stormwater runoff, which contaminates water supplies and contributes to beach closures. Last year was the second highest year on record for beach closings and advisories.
* Yet another rider changes current law to eliminate requirements for chemical companies to obtain permits for pesticides entering rivers and streams. This will mean even more of these toxic poisons in our lakes, rivers, fishing places, and drinking water supplies.
* The Cross-State Air Pollution rider prohibits EPA from implementing a rule to protect communities from pollution caused by power plants upwind of them. EPA estimates that this rule will prevent up to 34,000 premature deaths, 15,000 heart attacks, 400,000 cases of aggravated asthma, and 1.8 million sick days a year beginning in 2014.
* The Mercury and Air Toxics rider blocks EPA from finalizing a rule reducing emissions of mercury and other toxics from power plants. EPA estimates that this rule could deliver as much as $140 billion in health benefits and prevent 17,000 premature deaths each year.
* The Cement Kilns rider prohibits EPA from enforcing limits on emissions of mercury, particulate matter, and hydrochloric acid from cement kilns. These limits would reduce mercury pollution and fine particulate matter from cement kilns by 92 percent, preventing up to 2,500 premature deaths and avoiding 17,000 cases of aggravated asthma each year.
* Finally, the Offshore Drilling rider allows oil companies to pollute more by exempting support vessels involved in offshore oil drilling from regulation. This provision undermines the ability of the EPA to ensure that oil drilling on the Outer Continental Shelf proceeds safely, responsibly, and with opportunities for stakeholder input. We've already seen from the BP oil spill how dangerous offshore oil drilling can be.
On top of all of these dangerous riders, this bill slashes funding for the EPA by 18 percent below the 2011 level, in addition to the 16 percent cut that was inflicted on the agency when compared to the 1010 level. These cuts would leave the Environmental Protection Agency unable to effectively regulate pollution or protect public health, even when it is not prevented from doing so by an anti-environmental rider.
This entire bill is a threat to our public lands and our public health, and I urge my colleagues to vote against it."