With the government mere hours away from shutdown, the budget debate has centered around policy riders that GOP lawmakers insist must be included in any funding bill, most controversially involving Planned Parenthood funding. In an interview with CNN this morning, Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-ND) said Tea Party Republicans are also willing to shut down the government on behalf of mountaintop removal coal mining in the “down-to-the-wire federal spending-bill talks”:
Mountaintop mining was put on the table late in the game. Who knew that was going to lead to the shutdown of the federal government? You know, it would unconscionable at this stage not to avert a shutdown and the economic damage it would cause to this fragile recovery.
In February, the coal-powered House approved a number of amendments to the budget bill (H.R. 1) that would prevent the EPA from updating rules on mountaintop removal permitting, coal ash storage, emissions of coarse particulate matter, and a variety of other clean air and clean water safeguards. Three of these riders were aimed specifically at reversing the actions of the Obama Administration to strengthen permitting requirements for mountaintop removal mines — and thus reinstate the polluter-friendly rules set up by the Bush Administration.
At The Green Miles, Miles Grant notes this coal-fueled assault comes even as Appalachian residents have come to the Capitol to stop the destruction of their homeland:
The move comes on the same week that over 150 citizens with the Alliance for Appalachia converged on Capitol Hill for the Week in Washington to end mountaintop removal.
,Conrad now says that the GOP demands on mountaintop removal and greenhouse pollution have been taken off the table. “They’ve apparently backed off of that,” he told reporters.
,WSJ reports there may be a rider ordering an economic study of limits on mountaintop mining:
Ms. Boxer said that the spending measure may include language ordering a study of the EPA’s efforts to regulate mountaintop-removal mining, which is common in Appalachia region and involves blasting off mountaintops to get at the coal underneath. “We’re working on the details,” Ms. Boxer said.