Concealed weapons against the environment

Posted: Aug 10, 2011

Written by

ROBERT B. SEMPLE, The New York Times

While almost no one was looking, House Republicans embarked on a broad assault on the nation’s environmental laws, using as their weapon the 2012 spending bill for the Interior Department and the Environmental Protection Agency. When debate began Monday, the bill included an astonishing 39 anti-environmental riders — so called because they ride along on appropriations bills even though they have nothing to do with spending and are designed to change policy, in this case disastrously.

Riders generally are not subjected to hearings or extensive debate, and many would not survive on their own. They are often written in such a way that most people, even many Capitol Hill insiders, need a guide to understand them. They are, in short, bad policy pushed forward through a bad legislative process.

A rider can be removed from the bill only with a vote to strike it. The Democrats managed one big victory on Wednesday when, by a vote of 224 to 202, the House struck one that would have gutted the Endangered Species Act by blocking the federal government from listing any new species as threatened or endangered and barring it from protecting vital habitat — a provision so extreme that even some Republicans could not countenance it.

Here are some of the other riders that were still pending as of Friday, and a guide to what they really mean...

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