3:51pm

Fri December 9, 2011
Environmental Watchdog

Spending Bills Could Contain Environmental Riders

The U.S. House and Senate are working to reach a compromise on spending bills to keep the government functioning. Several measures weakening environmental laws are being considered as riders to the legislation. The deadline to pass the spending bills is Monday, and neither Republicans nor Democrats want to be responsible for shutting the government down.

“So it’s kind of like a giant game of Congressional chicken,” says Joan Mulhern, an attorney for Earthjustice. She says the bills have to pass, which is why it’s dangerous that some members of Congress are trying to add riders eroding the Clean Air and Water Acts into the legislation.

“If these amendments get added in, then the only way to stop them is for members of Congress to vote down funding for the government,” she said. “And that’s a tall order.”

Kentucky Congressman Hal Rogers is on the four-person conference committee that’s working to reach a compromise, and environmental groups say he is behind many of the riders. A spokeswoman for Rogers’s committee says it’s the House’s policy not to comment on matters under negotiations.