[GRRN] ACTION ALERT: Welfare for Waste Starts Here

Bill Sheehan (zerowaste@grrn.org)
Thu, 15 Jul 1999 03:39:50 -0400

Welfare for Waste starts here and is happening right now! Here is
what you can do to stop it.

Below is an alert from Roger Featherstone from the Grassroots
Environmental Effectiveness Network (GREEN -- not to be confused
with GRRN!) Following the alert is a New York Times article (7/7)
which includes and explanation of the "rider" process.

/Bill Sheehan
Network Coordinator
GrassRoots Recycling Network

From: "Roger Featherstone" <RFeather@albq.defenders.org>
Subject: ACTION ALERT -- Act Now to Stop Anti-Environmental Riders


Here we go again! This week the U.S. House of Representatives is expected
to vote on the Interior Appropriations bill, which once again seriously
underfunds wildlife and natural resource programs. The Senate is expected
to vote on its Interior Appropriations bill the following week. There isn't
much time to strip anti- environmental riders from the bills!

After several careful readings of the Senate Interior Appropriations bill
the environmental community found several additional riders tucked away in
the bill. The Senate bill now contains 14 anti-environmental riders.
(You can find the updated list at http://www.defenders.org/grnhome.html.)

We have got to keep up the pressure on both the House and the Senate.
Unless we make a stand against anti-environmental riders now, we can expect
the House to adopt anti-environmental riders on the floor. And the Senate
is going to try to pretend its anti-environmental riders aren't in the
bill. It's our job to point them out and to let our elected officials know
that undemocratic attacks on the environment will not be tolerated.

Take a look at the new list. Make a few phone calls to your Senators,
Representatives and the President. Also, the Mineral Policy Center is
developing a mining rider tool kit to help you defeat one of the worst
anti-environmental riders found in the Senate bill. To receive a copy
e-mail: mpc@mineralpolicy.org. Keep up the fight!

Thanks, Roger Featherstone GREEN Director
GREEN is a project of Defenders of Wildlife designed to serve grassroots
wildlife and wildlands advocates. GREEN policy positions do not necessarily
represent those of Defenders of Wildlife.

1) Call your Representative (1-202-224-3121) and demand
he/she resist attempts to attach any anti-environmental riders to the House
Interior Appropriations bill.

2) Call your Senators (1-202-224-3121) and demand they strip all anti-
environmental riders from the Senate Interior Appropriations bill. Send
this list of riders to their offices and tell them each one of these riders
should be stripped from the bill. Be sure to mention a few specific riders
that you find particularly offensive or that may affect public lands or
wildlife near you.

3) Call the White House. (1-202-456-1414) Time and time again the President
promises to veto all anti-environmental riders. But when push comes to
shove, he backs down and reneges on his promise. We have to let the
Administration know that if anti-environmental riders pass they share the
blame! Tell the President to make his opposition to anti-environmental
riders known to Congress and to not back down again.

Senate Riders Put Some on the Inside Track

WASHINGTON -- The Senate is setting up a festival of favors for oil, gas,
timber, mining and ranching interests in its spending bills this year.

Oil companies would keep hundreds of millions of dollars in royalties that
the Interior Department says they owe the public. Miners would be able to
dump thousands of tons of waste on Federal land. Loggers would reap new
harvests in Alaska's forests. Ranchers could let their cattle graze in a
national recreation area.

None of these measures might pass easily on their own. But all are wrapped
as riders inside the bill financing the Interior Department, which must
pass in some way, shape or form. It was approved by the Senate
Appropriations Committee last week.

In 1997 and 1998, the 105th Congress used riders to promote timber cutting
in national forests, block a clear-air program for national parks, freeze
fuel-efficiency standards for cars, let more livestock graze on Federal
lands and increase logging in California forests.

This year, in the Senate, Western Republicans like Senators Larry E. Craig
of Idaho, Slade Gorton of Washington and Ted Stevens of Alaska, chairman of
the Senate Appropriations Committee, have inserted measures into spending
bills that have gladdened oil men, loggers, miners and ranchers. Since
1991, these three pivotal Senators have received more than $850,000 in
campaign contributions from those interests, Federal records show.

Environmentalists say there is a direct connection between the money the
Senators receive and the laws they write. "Mining, timber and oil
industries are using key senators as political pawns to checkmate the
environment," said Courtney Cuff, legislative director of the group Friends
of the Earth.

The Senate used to have the century-old Rule XVI, which in principle barred
members from adding new laws to spending bills. But in 1995, while trying
to undercut the Endangered Species Act, Republicans killed the rule with a
swift parliamentary blow. Its death opened the way for amendments and
riders to piggyback on spending bills. It meant that new laws, sometimes
impenetrably written, could be enacted without the usual public hearings
and public debate, or public disclosure of their legislative intent.

Two weeks ago, Craig, chief of the Republican Policy Committee, inserted an
amendment to the Interior bill that wipes out a rule that had limited mine
dumps on Federal and Indian land to five-acre sites. The measure overturns
Interior Department policies and legal rulings by the department's
solicitor general. Similarly, Gorton used a rider in May to pave the way
for an open-pit gold mine in Washington whose operators will crush, leach
and dump nine million tons of rock.

"A mineral is where you find it," Craig said. "It may not be the most
suitable place in the world."

Mining companies have more than 300 pending applications for new projects
on Federal land affected by Craig's measure, the Senator said. One proposed
mine would create more than 220 tons of waste for every ounce of gold it
produces, Interior officials say.

Gold mines use cyanide to separate the metal from rock, and that poison can
wash into streams and rivers, killing fish and wildlife, environmentalists

The measure could create hundreds of mining jobs and hundreds of millions
of dollars of profit. But "the mining rider would devastate beautiful
places forever," Ms. Cuff said.

Craig and Gorton together have received $100,000 in campaign contributions
from mining interests since 1991, Federal records show. Gregory Wetstone,
advocacy director at the Natural Resources Defense Council in Washington,
called the mining rider a case study of democracy in inaction, "an abuse of
what is supposed to be an open democratic process and an open door for
special interests."

"It's hard to imagine a more telling example of unconscionable legislation
that could never be passed in the light of day," Wetstone said.

Another amendment, by Stevens and Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, Republican
of Texas, would spare oil companies from paying the public hundreds of
millions of dollars.

The Interior Department contends that oil companies have underpaid
royalties on oil extracted from Federal land. These royalties go to
Government environmental programs and to state public education funds. The
money due, by some estimates, is $856 million and growing.

The Senators' amendment places a continuing moratorium on the oil
companies' having to pay up.

Other senators have riders that bar the Interior Department from
prohibiting lead mining along the Ozark National Scenic Riverways in
Missouri, open a national recreation area in Washington State to cattle
ranchers and promote logging in Federal forests.

The White House is threatening to veto the Interior spending bill over such
riders. The Senate will soon vote on the bill; assuming it passes, it will
then be reconciled with the House Appropriations Committee's version,
approved on Thursday, which contains no environmental riders.

The Senate's fondness for such riders grew mightily after it abolished Rule

Ever since, Craig said, "appropriations bills have become vehicles" for all
manner of riders as Democrats and Republicans alike have loaded laws onto
spending bills for seven Federal agencies. Just last week, Senate Democrats
tried to attach a patient's bill of rights onto the agriculture spending
bill, stalling its passage.

"In all fairness," Craig said, "the reason that has happened is that
appropriations bills must pass."

The practice "is one of the reasons we get wrapped around the axle," said
the spokeswoman for the House Appropriations Committee, Elizabeth Morra.

Legislative standoffs on spending created the Government shutdown of 1995
and a last-minute spending free-for-all last October -- both of which
embarrassed Congress and diminished its reputation among voters.

The Senate is now considering reinstating Rule XVI, and 85 House Democrats
have signed a bill, called The Defense of the Environment Act, to outlaw
special-interest riders like the Senate's. It has little or no chance of