|7:17 PM EDT||
Donna F. Edwards, D-MD 4th
Ms. EDWARDS. Mr. Chairman, I didn't think I would be down here this evening debating the Interior-EPA appropriations bill, in part because of the number of hours that we have spent in this Chamber on this bill when we actually should be facing the Nation's debt ceiling, giving the President a clean debt ceiling and moving forward with rebuilding our economy and creating jobs. Instead, we're debating yet another flawed bill. It is the biggest assault on clean air, clean water, the endangered species,
and public lands that we've seen in our Nation's history.
The bill's unprecedented funding cuts and polluter riders to benefit rich and often reckless mining and oil companies will cripple the EPA's employees, health professionals, and scientists' ability to do their job protecting our Nation and its public health.
Rather than celebrating the advancements that we've made over the last 40 years in air and water quality, instead, these Republican ``riders to ruin'' are driving us back to the sixties, a time when Rachel Carson wrote ``Silent Spring'' to awaken the American public to the man-made impacts on the environment. And I just want to take a few moments to discuss a couple of them. There are so many that it's a tough challenge, these Republican ``riders to ruin.''
The bill would prohibit funding for the Endangered Species Act listings. Hundreds of animals have been protected under the Endangered Species Act. The bill would eliminate the protection that leads to the repopulation and revitalization of bald eagle populations in our Nation. And for all the flag pins that we wear, we're about ready to decimate the very act that protects our Nation's symbol, the bald eagle.
Among other things, the bill also strikes out at ending regulations to expand the storm water discharge program under the Clean Water Act. The program prevents harmful pollutants from being washed or dumped into our water systems. And as our cities and urbanized areas grow, storm water runoff can become a threat if we're not able to better manage the discharge waters and possible impact of toxins and pollutants.
And here we are, something I can hardly believe. I recall taking my son to the Grand Canyon and camping along the side of the south rim many years ago. What are we going to do now? We can pitch our tents next to the uranium mines at the Grand Canyon. This is insane.
For the 5 million visitors a year who visit the Grand Canyon, we're going to jeopardize the water quality of our Nation's most important rivers. I can't imagine families visiting the Grand Canyon. I can't imagine future generations pitching their tent next to the Grand Canyon, next to a uranium mine, because of this senseless legislation.
It almost makes you breathless to wonder why it is that we've decided that the Federal Government doesn't have a role anymore in protecting our water and our land and our air and our air quality. The majority is pushing a bill on the floor that blocks Clean Air Act regulations of fine particles and soot and delays the EPA from limiting toxic mercury pollution from power plants. Why don't we just break up all our thermometers and dump them in the water?
I'm not sure who these riders are meant to help, but I know that they don't help children in communities in my district and across the country who are vulnerable to air pollution. Thirty percent of childhood asthma is due to environmental exposures, costing the Nation $2 billion per year. These riders add to the arsenal. They just add to the arsenal. Low-income and minority children experience more doctor visits and hospitalization due to asthma than the general population and three times the
rate of white Americans.
This is a really sad day, but it's most especially sad because we should be doing the Nation's business. Today, we watched the stock market plummet because of the uncertainty that we've created in this body because of the recalcitrance of the Republican majority. I know that we have to do this horrible EPA appropriations bill, but what we need to do is fix this Nation's economy, get people back to work building our roads and our bridges and our infrastructure, and protecting our national parks.
Instead, we're engaged in the silliness of trying to play dice and chicken with the American economy. [Page: H5639]
It's a really sad day for the American public. Just a really sad day.
With that, I yield back the balance of my time.