Climate Advocates Blast GOP Funding Bill as “A ‘How-To’ Manual for Destroying the Planet”

July 23rd, 2023 - by Jake Johnson / Common Dreams

“While Americans take refuge from
record-setting extreme heat and
suffer from wildfire smoke,
the House majority proposes
slashing environmental funding
to the lowest level in 30 years.”

Jake Johnson / Common Dreams

(Jul 18, 2023) — Legislation that the Republican-controlled House Appropriations Committee is set to mark up on Wednesday would take an axe to U.S. climate spending, cutting the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget by a staggering 39% while promoting fossil fuel development as huge swaths of the planet face devastating heatwaves.

Kyle Jones, director of federal affairs with the Center for Policy Advocacy at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), said in a statement Tuesday that the Republican bill is “historically bad… the worst of its kind we’ve ever seen.”

Jones went on to say that the legislation—one of a dozen appropriations bills currently moving through the House—”reads like a ‘how-to’ manual for destroying the planet.”

“While Americans take refuge from record-setting extreme heat and suffer from wildfire smoke, the House majority proposes slashing environmental funding to the lowest level in 30 years,” said Jones. “This is a non-starter, based on galling scientific ignorance and reactionary politics.”

Made public last week amid record-shattering heat and other extreme weather across the U.S., the GOP’s Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies funding bill calls for $4 billion in total cuts to the EPA budget—slashing the agency’s clean water funds, emissions-reduction grants, and other programs.

The bill would also cut the Interior Department’s budget by $721 million, remove the Gray Wolf from the list of endangered and threatened wildlife, and prevent the EPA from considering the social cost of carbonin any regulatory action.

Meanwhile, the Republican legislation aims to bolster the industry fueling climate chaos by requiring the Interior Department to hold at least two offshore oil and gas lease sales in both the Gulf of Mexico and Alaska each year.

“The bill includes an exhaustive list of anti-environment riders that seek to derail any effort to combat climate change and undermine clean water and clean air protections,” Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-Maine), the top Democrat on the House Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Subcommittee, said during a hearing on the measure last week.

Republicans “give an open invitation to exploitative oil, gas, and mineral leasing by blocking environmental regulations and even overriding judicial review,” Pingree added. “At the same time, the bill suppresses clean energy production.”‘

The NRDC’s Josh Axelrod and Valerie Cleland wrote in a blog post that the legislation marks “the Republican majority’s latest in a series of attempts to hand over our public lands and waters to Big Oil.”

“To say these provisions would have devasting impacts on both climate and communities would be an understatement,” Axelrod and Cleland added. “This effort by the Republican House majority is a slap in the face to the millions of Americans suffering through weeks-long heatwaves and devastating floods and who are looking to Congress for solutions to meet this historic and challenging moment.”

As their appropriations bills make clear, House Republicans are looking to enact painful cuts across the federal government, drawing vocal opposition from congressional Democrats and increasing the likelihood of a shutdown.

Late last week, as Common Dreams reported, a GOP-controlled subcommittee advanced an agency funding bill that would cut the Department of Education’s budget to below the 2006 level and slash programs that help employ hundreds of thousands of teachers nationwide.

Additionally, as The Washington Post noted Tuesday, “a series of GOP bills to finance the federal government in 2024 would wipe out billions of dollars meant to repair the nation’s aging infrastructure, potentially undercutting a 2021 law that was one of Washington’s rare recent bipartisan achievements.”

“The proposed cuts could hamstring some of the most urgently needed public-works projects across the country, from improving rail safety to reducing lead contamination at schools,” the Post added.

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