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E-M:/ Congress Attacks Environment with Riders

Enviro-Mich message from Karen Tuerk <ktuerk@execpc.com>

Today is National No-Riders, No-Rollbacks Call-In Day.
Thanks to all the folks who have called in so far to Senators, voicing
their outrage for the recent barage of anti-environmental riders passed
by congress. It's not too late to call if you haven't yet! The following
is a press release for a news conference held today at the white house
by Defenders of Wildlife on recent rider attacks.

The congressional switchboard # is: (202) 224-3121  for calls to your

Karen Tuerk

 June 16, 1998
CONTACT:  Joan Moody 202-682-9400 x220


 The White House, Washington, D.C.  -- Speaking at a White House
press conference today,  Defenders of Wildlife President Rodger
Schlickeisen warned that although the 105th Congress may try to paint
itself greener than the 104th,  it stands poised to become possibly
the most anti-environmental Congress ever.

Representing the national environmental community, Schlickeisen
joined Vice President Al Gore and several Members of Congress in
opposing "stealth attacks" by the 105th Congress on environmental

 "Having learned in 1995 and 1996 that the public will not tolerate
their emasculation of our environmental laws if they know it is
occurring, Congress has turned again and again to mugging
environmental protection in the shadows where the public must strain
to see what is happening, Schlickeisen said.."

Also speaking at the event were Rep. Henry Waxman, Rep. Louis
Stokes, Sen. Max Baucus, and  Sen Frank Lautenberg.  On behalf of all
the major environmental groups working to improve and strengthen
environmental laws, Schlickeisen predicted that the 105th Congress
would continue its attack on environmental protections through

"Make no mistake -- although the leadership of this Congress
is not loudly and publicly condemning our environmental laws as they
did in the last Congress, their efforts to undermine those laws are
every bit as serious," said Schlickeisen. "Sadly, they are also more
likely to succeed because of their back-room tactics in the dead of

 He cautioned against numerous possible anti-environmental
riders that Members of Congress may try to attach at the last minute
to various fiscal year 1999 budget appropriations and other
nonrelated bills. A copy of Schlickeisen's statement follows. A list
of several dozen possible anti- environmental riders is also
available upon request.

                              # # #

 June 16, 1998

 I want to thank Vice President Gore for holding this event today and
for his longstanding environmental leadership.   I speak for the
entire environmental community when I express our deep appreciation
and strong support for the extremely important legislative priorities
we expect the Vice President to outline today.

 We pledge to do our best to get these enacted in this 105th
Congress. It will be a difficult task, for not only has this Congress
failed to support new environmental laws, it has been hard at work
rolling back and undermining those we already have.  We are here
today to stand up with the White House to condemn the stealth attack
being waged against the environment on Capitol Hill.

Beginning in 1995, anti-environmental congressmen have relentlessly
assaulted our nation's environmental protection laws.  Now there has
emerged a clear pattern to their mischief.  Having learned in 1995
and 1996 that the public will not tolerate their emasculation of our
environmental laws if they know it is occurring, Congress has turned
again and again to mugging environmental protection in the shadows
where the public must strain to see what is happening.

Again and again they have adopted the stealth tactic of attaching
environmentally destructive provisions to appropriations and other
must-pass bills, sometimes going so far as to add their
anti-environmental provisions without prior consideration by either
body, without prior notice even to most of their own colleagues, at
the eleventh hour, behind closed doors, to totally unrelated

 The fact that there is a clear pattern indicates that it
is a purposefully designed strategy to undermine our environmental
laws without paying the price with the public.  Make no mistake --
-although the leadership of this Congress is not loudly and publicly
condemning our environmental laws as they did in the last Congress,
their efforts to undermine those laws are every bit as serious.
Sadly, they are also more likely to succeed because of their
back-room tactics in the dead of night.  Such assaults are
particularly difficult to fight because we are never sure when or
where they will occur or which of our national parks, wilderness
areas, endangered species, or pollution laws will be the next victim.

Last year there were at least two dozen anti-environmental provisions
buried in appropriations bills and other legislation.  And it looks
like Congress this year is intent upon beating last year's record.
They have not yet passed even one Fiscal 99 appropriations bill, and
already we have seen more than a half-dozen stealth provisions
become law attached to must-pass legislation.

For example, no less than three provisions were added to an
emergency bill needed to provide disaster assistance -- one allows
construction of a six-lane commuter highway through the Petroglyph
National Monument in New Mexico; a second interferes with the Clinton
Administration's initiative to take a time-out on building damaging
new roads in sensitive areas of our national forests; and a third
blocks reform of the government's oil leasing royalty system that
gives oil companies a free ride at the expense of the American

And just recently anti-environmental forces in Congress hijacked the
highway transportation bill to pass destructive provisions that will
delay efforts to control the pollution that clouds the spectacular
vistas in some of our national parks; allow damaging access by
motorized vehicles to an unspoiled area of the Boundary Waters Canoe
Area wilderness in Minnesota; and open the door to construction of a
damaging, costly and unjustified road into Denali National Park and
Preserve in Alaska.

Moreover, this Congress is now refusing to release about $340
million of Land and Water Conservation Fund money already
appropriated -- with the result that almost 100 needed acquisitions
to our national parks and other federal lands may be lost forever.

Now this Congress has begun work on the 13 regular appropriations
bills that must pass by September 30th to keep government programs
running and prevent another shutdown.

And there is a long laundry list of damaging proposals that we
believe could become riders on those bills.  Here is a small
sampling: There are several proposals to give away pristine Alaska
forest land, and another to construct the first permanent road in an
officially designated wilderness. There is a proposal to remove
protection from fragile coastal areas in Florida.  Another would
delay action to remove dangerous pesticides from foods under the Food
Quality Protection Act.  Others would undermine the regular
functioning of the Endangered Species Act.  And still others would
block the critically needed clean-up of PCBs and delay control of air
pollution from power plants and greenhouse gases producing global

Based upon what we've seen, we strongly believe that this Congress
intends to spend a significant portion of its remaining days
attacking our environmental laws with provisions like these and
others too numerous to recount here.  If they do, there is no
question that the 105th Congress could compile an even worse
environmental record than did the much maligned 104th Congress.

We would like nothing better than to be proven wrong in our
assessment of this Congress, and to see it step forward and
demonstrate that it is at least neutral on the environment.  It
probably is not advisable to try holding your breath until they do
that. But actually you will not have to wait long to learn Congress'
intentions for there are a number of actions that could occur very

The appropriations subcommittees are about to mark up their Fiscal
`99 appropriations bills.  Keep a close watch, for example, on what
happens in the Senate Interior subcommittee markup scheduled for next
week.  If this Congress wants to show the public it is not
anti-environment. it can approve its appropriations bills with no
environmental rollbacks attached.

The Department of Defense Authorization bill, S.1812, now includes a
provision sponsored by Senator Kempthorne that would convert some of
the wildest remaining federal lands in Idaho into a new Air Force
Bombing Range.  And it would authorize payment of about $1 million to
a single rancher with close political ties to the senator and his
Idaho colleagues.  If the Senate wants to show that it is not
anti-environment, it can vote for the Reid-Wyden-Inouye amendment to
defeat the Kempthorne provision.

And on the other side of the Hill, if the House wants to show that it
does not deserve the anti-environment reputation it has earned, it
can simply pass legislation that would eliminate the stealthy, back-
door, anti-democratic tactics it has been using to undermine our
environmental laws.  All the House has to do is pass the bill
introduced by Rep. Waxman, the Defense of the Environment Act
(H.R.1404),  which would require open debate and an independent floor
vote on any provision that would weaken or rollback America's
environmental protection laws.  Also, tomorrow this same legislation
will be offered by Senator Durbin as an amendment to the Mandates
Information Act in the Senate Government Affairs Committee.

The environmental community appreciates the strong position of the
Clinton/Gore White House in fighting to protect the environment in
the final three months of this Congress.  Experience in the 104th
Congress shows that when the White House rejects Congress' anti-
environmentalism, it will be strongly supported by the American
people and it will be successful.

We thank the Vice President for the strong commitment he is making
here today.  We stand ready to support him and President Clinton and
anyone in the Congress who will stand up for the environment.  We are
confident that together we can protect our precious environmental
laws and heritage.           # # #

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