We spoke en masse and the Omnibus Spending Bill got a little greener

By: Chris Talbot-Heindl, Communications & Membership Manager

Congress somehow agreed on a spending bill for the rest of the 2018 fiscal budget year, and it isn’t totally horrible for the environment! While I wholeheartedly agree with other environmental organizations that we should all take a moment to thank our elected representatives, I believe we should also take a moment to thank ourselves. To me, the Omnibus Spending Bill shows that all of our science-based advocacy we’ve taken up over the last…say year and three months has made a huge difference!

The original proposed bill included a slash of the EPA’s budget up to 31%, including reductions to the Office of Environmental Justice and the Office of Research and Development. We spoke out en masse and none of these programs received any cuts. The agency is set to receive $8.1 billion – the same funding level they received in 2017.

The original proposed bill included a reduction in EPA cleanup support. We spoke out en masse and the Superfund was actually increased by $66 million! The bill also includes a reauthorization of the Brownsfield Program – which provides grants from the EPA to work with local communities to safely clean up and reuse contaminated sites.

The original proposed bill included a severe reduction in the Energy Department’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. We spoke out en masse and the office actually saw an increase!

And my personal favorite: The original proposed bill included 12 riders to block the enforcement of the Endangered Species Act including a prohibition on science-based Endangered Species Act protections for a myriad of species including the greater sage-grouse and wolves in Wyoming and the Great Lakes region. We spoke out en masse and no new prohibitions on the Endangered Species Act were included in the final bill. In fact, the bill directs the Bureau of Land Management to focus an increase in funding towards resource management planning for the greater sage-grouse and its habitat and encourages the BLM “to continue working with states and other interested entities on the existing sage-grouse conservation plans and to improve the condition of the sage-steppe ecosystem.”

Greater sage-grouse doing a happy dance about the Omnibus Spending Bill via GIPHY

We should take a moment and celebrate this victory and thank ourselves and our representatives for making it happen!

Did you do it? Good!

There are a lot of things not to love about this spending bill, and things we still need to fight for. Here are just a few things:

  1. The bill includes a provision for the EPA to exempt farms from having to report their air pollution to the EPA.
  2. The bill includes a provision for the EPA to treat wood burning as a carbon-neutral and renewable electricity source.
  3. The bill includes $727 million for “clean coal” technology development.

To keep up-to-date on all actions, be sure to check out our Environmental Actions Weekly Round-Up, updated every Friday.

For more information about the Omnibus Spending Bill, check out this article from E&E News.

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