Is This How Your Family Cuts Its Budget?

Owen Byrne

Politicians just love to draw the analogy between cutting the federal budget and how families cut their spending and live within their means. I agree with this sentiment, but I have a question back to our Congressional representatives – when times get tough, do families decide to cut back on clean water and clean air for their children? Do they sit around the dinner table after the kids head off to bed and discuss the need to cut back their spending and offer up that “Johnny is just not going to be able to breathe clean air tomorrow”?  Or, “You know Jane down the street, with asthma, the heck with her, let her suffer the consequences of wanting to play outside.” I think not.

Yet this week members of the House of Representatives included so called “stealth riders” in their budget cutting efforts (“continuing resolution”), which would prevent the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from implementing key provisions of the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act. These “stealth riders” are not spending cuts. They are substantive legislation attached to budget language that has all the force of passing legislation.

All of us in the Northeast have greatly benefited from these laws, from cleaning up our drinking water and improving our air quality to ensuring that nature can still be found right in our backyards if we are lucky or a short drive or train ride away.

Simply put, members of the House majority leadership are using the “budget crisis” as a ruse for doing the polluter’s lobby’s dirty work. In fact, for all their talk of fiscal responsibility, it’s telling that House leaders have refused to consider cutting $3.6 billion in giveaways to Big Oil.  Yet the overall budgets for EPA and the Interior Department, which oversees our public lands and natural resources, would be gouged by $4.4 billion.

This is an urgent matter. A vote is expected in this week. Maybe Thursday or Friday. If you feel as strongly as I do that sacrificing clean air and water is not an option, please call/email/write a letter to your congressional representatives about how you feel. You can also call directly to 202-224-3121 or find your representative and tell them directly.

Don’t stop there: share this or your own message with your friends, family and other networks in New Hampshire, New York and New Jersey (where key “swing” votes exist) or go viral and “tweet” your network around the country, put a message on facebook so the world can see.

We need everyone to speak up, make our voices heard and tell congress how important clean air and water is for our families.