New Report: 1 in 5 House GOP Votes Target Conservation Protections

Gray wolf on the banks of the Gardner River in Yellowstone (photo by Beth Pratt)
From Theodore Roosevelt creating the National Parks System to Richard Nixon establishing the Environmental Protection Agency to George H.W. Bush signing a strengthened Clean Air Act, Republicans have a long history of supporting common sense, bipartisan solutions to problems facing our wildlife, air, water and public health.

But as a new report details, House Republican leadership has abandoned that tradition this year. They’ve taken an incredible 191 votes to weaken environmental protections:

The House of Representatives averaged more than one anti-environmental vote for every day the House was in session in 2011. More than one in five of the legislative roll call votes taken in 2011 – 22% – were votes to undermine environmental protections. […]

The anti-environment votes cut across a broad array of issues and included 27 votes to block action to address climate change, 77 votes to undermine Clean Air Act protections, 28 votes to undermine Clean Water Act protections, and 47 votes to weaken protection of public land and coastal waters.  The Environmental Protection Agency was the target of 114 of these votes; the Department of the Interior was the target of 35 of these votes; and the Department of Energy was the target of 31 of these votes.

The report (PDF) from Rep. Henry A. Waxman, Rep. Edward J. Markey, and Rep. Howard L. Berman of the House Energy & Commerce Committee comes as House Republicans are working to benefit their Big Oil donors by attaching even more anti-environment riders to must-pass economic & budget bills.

Of those 191 anti-environment votes, 47 were “to weaken protection of public lands and coastal waters, including votes to curtail environmental review of offshore drilling; to halt reviews of public lands for possible wilderness designations; and to remove protections for salmon, wolves, and other species.”

Bear catching salmon in California (Flickr’s Rose Robinson)
Among the specifics:

  • “In H.R. 1, House Republicans included language to block implementation of two biological opinions intended to ensure the recovery of threatened and endangered salmon, steelhead, green sturgeon, and other species in the San Francisco Bay-Delta ecosystem.”
  • “The [House GOP has] proposed cutting funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which acquires new lands for recreation and wildlife protection, by 78% in 2012.”
  • “[H.R. 1] cut in half funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, a multi-agency effort to clean up pollution and combat invasive species in the Great Lakes. Funding for similar restoration programs for the Puget Sound and the Chesapeake Bay were reduced by a combined 40%.”
  • “The final FY2011 funding bill that passed on April 14, 2011 directing the Secretary to delist the gray wolf [from Endangered Species Act protections] in Montana, Idaho, eastern Washington, eastern Oregon, and north-central Utah.”
  • “In May 2011, House Republicans voted unanimously to pass H.R. 1229, the “Putting the Gulf of Mexico Back to Work Act.” … Rep. John Garamendi (D-CA) commented that the bill ‘seems to ignore every one of the recommendations that the [National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill] made about how to conduct deepwater drilling in a safe manner.’

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