House Republicans are hoping to get their polluter-protection agenda through one way or another, either with a budget that cripples the Environmental Protection Agency, or through a shutdown of the entire federal government. Although Democrats have agreed to make radical cuts to the six-month budget continuation that must pass today for the federal government to avoid a shutdown, the GOP is insisting on its policy riders on health care and pollution.
House Republicans have added numerous riders to lift protections against global warming pollution, mountaintop removal, and other air and water pollution. “The only things — I repeat, the only things — holding up an agreement are women’s health and clean air,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said yesterday. “They want to roll back the Clean Air Act.”
During a budget shutdown, agencies are allowed to continue some emergency and essential activities, but tens of thousands of workers will be sent home, crippling environmental protection and economic services:
The Interior Department “would continue with offshore oil-and-gas permitting and several other government functions if a government shutdown occurs, but overall it would cripple the agency and prompt the furlough of more than 50,000 employees.” Continuing: “volcano and earthquake monitoring; U.S. Park Police and law enforcement for Interior’s various agencies; firefighting; wildlife caretakers and others.” Shut down: USGS work, “National Parks and wildlife refuges, Bureau of Indian Affairs economic development programs, federal oversight and regulation of surface coal mining.”
The Department of Energy has “appropriations set aside that would allow the department to operate at full capacity for ‘a limited time,’” but furloughs would begin if the shutdown extends for more than a few days.
The Environmental Protection Agency “would cease all ongoing permitting work, rulemaking activities and environmental impact statement efforts,” “scientific evaluations for chemicals and pesticides,” “testing of various technologies such as studies on fracking techniques,” and “most water programs — such as pollution monitoring at beaches.”
“It is deeply disappointing that our Republican colleagues are so willing, able, and apparently eager to shut down the government,” Rep. Jay Inslee (D-WA) said on Wednesday. “Shutting down the government is not a solution. Shutting down the EPA is not a solution. Shutting down American innovation is not a solution.”