Proposed Riders an Assault to Wildlife

Florida Panther
Misdirected federal funding cuts could become the next big threat to endangered wildlife like the Florida panther. Photo: Michael Levine.

With the holidays right around the corner, House Republican leaders are scrambling to fulfill the last-minute wish lists of their good friends, big polluters.

Knowing that Congress must pass the federal spending bills before year’s end in order to continue funding the government, some members are scheming to push through anti-wildlife measures that would otherwise never make it into law.

A whopping 51 anti-environmental “riders”–so called because they ride along appropriations bills while having nothing to do with spending–are being considered, making it one of the most aggressive assaults in our nation’s history to wildlife, clean air, and clean water.

At risk are cuts to programs in the Endangered Species Act, National Wildlife Refuge System, and State and Tribal Wildlife Grants Program, which have been essential to protecting and restoring our wildlife and natural resources. In addition, some of the most egregious riders attempt to:

  • Block the EPA and U.S. Army Corps from clarifying the scope of the Clean Water Act, leaving 60% of our nation’s rivers and streams and over 20 million acres of wetlands–which provide crucial habitat for river otters–at risk.
  • Force approval of the Keystone XL tar sands oil pipeline and remove the President’s authority to make a final decision on the project. Bypassing much-needed environmental review and turning Congress into a permitting body on this dangerous project would undermine the entire process and put wildlife–including the endangered whooping crane–and water supplies at risk of toxic oil spills.
  • Block EPA from reducing mercury and other toxic air pollutants from power plants, industrial boilers or cement kilns, which already causes suffering for common loons.

Passing a spending bill should not be an opportunity to force through unrelated matters that have not received proper consideration or public scrutiny. We can responsibly and successfully fund the federal government in a way that protects our nation’s wildlife, natural resources, and public health.

Urge your members of Congress to stand firm against anti-wildlife riders in the federal spending bill.