Blumenauer Statement on House Passage of Interior & Environment Funding Bill

July 14, 2016
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Representative Earl Blumenauer (OR-03) released the following statement on House passage of H.R. 5538, FY2017 Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill.

 “I emphatically voted ‘no’ on H.R. 5538, a parade of misguided provisions that will roll back critical environmental protections and seriously harm our climate, natural surroundings, and wildlife. We can do better than this shameful attempt at funding the agencies responsible for protecting human health and the environment. We should be supporting programs to clean our air and water, protect precious natural resources, and help us transition to a clean energy future. Instead, this legislation moves us in the opposite direction.

 “The bill cuts the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) operating budget and blocks spending on key programs and regulations at a time when we need greater—not fewer—resources to protect our health and guarantee clean air and clean water. This is particularly painful for communities like Flint, MI, and my hometown of Portland, OR, where the EPA is assisting with recent crises like lead in the water and pollution in the air, trying to stretch meager funding even as the stakes get higher. The legislation also continues the Republican charade of climate change denial, undermining the administration’s Clean Power Plan and the President’s bold commitments made to the international community at the Paris Climate Conference last year.  

“This bill takes multiple steps backwards when we should be ramping up efforts to protect, conserve, and take better care of our natural world. It underfunds key Department of Interior agencies, such as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, and Bureau of Indian Affairs, tasked with protecting and conserving lands and wildlife. It slashes the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which has been fundamental for protecting public land and recreation in Oregon and across the country. One of the bill’s more offensive provisions blocks Presidential declarations under the Antiquities Act, eliminating the potential of a national monument in southeastern Oregon’s magnificent Owyhee Canyonlands and other threatened areas of natural beauty throughout the United States. 

“My Republican colleagues took this opportunity to score political points by tacking on damaging policies that have no place in the appropriations process. These provisions block funding for implementation of common sense regulations like the Well Control Rule, the Obama Administration’s National Ocean Policy, the Bureau of Land Management’s hydraulic fracturing rule, to name a few. There are also provisions added that would stall progress we’ve made in preventing drilling in the Arctic Ocean, prevent the Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Park Service from setting minimum standards for hunting on federal lands in Alaska, block federal protection of species like the iconic gray wolf and Preble’s Meadow Jumping Mouse, roll back the Clean Air Act and stop additional action to prevent climate change, the greatest environmental challenge of our time. Even closer to home, one proposed amendment would have blocked the historic agreement between Oregon, California, PacifiCorp, and conservation organizations to remove four dams on the Klamath River, but luckily it was not successful.

“This was a shameful showing by the House of Representatives. While I joined my colleagues in efforts to block many of the most harmful provisions, ultimately the Republican majority let big polluters and special interests rule the day, playing politics with what should have been an opportunity to sensibly fund important parts of the government. Our legacy should be one of conservation, careful investment in preservation of precious natural resources, and protection of human health and our fragile climate. This bill could not be more damaging to that legacy. Congress should restore funding and reject these harmful policies as it continues to consider funding for the federal government’s operations. We must fight harder for the future our planet deserves.”