RELEASE: In First 100 Days, Congress Works to Dismantle the Democratic Pillars of Our Environmental Laws
Washington D.C. — The 115th Congress has launched a backdoor assault on environmental protections by undermining the democratic processes that are the key pillars of our nation’s environmental laws, according to a new Center for American Progress analysis.
According to CAP’s analysis, the House and Senate voted against the environmental protections 42 times during its first 100 days. Most of these votes—27—were part of an unconventional strategy to make low-profile but highly consequential and anti-democratic changes to the federal rule-making process. They voted to add impossible hurdles for agencies to clear when setting new pollution limits; make it more difficult for the Environmental Protection Agency to use the best science in its rule-makings; and weaken citizens’ ability to use the courts to hold polluters accountable. Additionally, Congress voted nine times to use the Congressional Review Act, which had only been used once before in its history, to permanently negate important environmental rules that the Obama administration had finalized after years of stakeholder input and comment.
“Americans strongly support the country’s environmental laws. Congress is eager to cater to the wishes of big corporations and weaken those laws but is afraid to do so in a transparent way,” said Alison Cassady, Director of Domestic Energy and Environment Policy for the Center. “With all eyes on President Donald Trump, Congress has been working under the radar to undermine our environmental laws and cut the public and scientists out of the process.”
Among the victims of Congress’ assault are protections for waterways from toxic coal mining waste; a program to deter the oil industry from bribing foreign oligarchs; and requirements to solicit public input into how the government manages public lands.
Public opinion research shows that voters are concerned about what the Republican-led Congress’ agenda means for environmental protections. The first 100 days of the 115th Congress appear to validate these concerns, and taken together, reveal an anti-public health, anti-environment, pro-fossil fuel company agenda that will set U.S. environmental protections back decades.
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