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Democrats Slip Rider into Omnibus Appropriations Bill Allowing the Interior Department to Regulate Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Action disregards public opinion, poses threat to jobs and the economy

WASHINGTON, D.C., February 24, 2009 - Congressional Democrats have inserted a dangerous rider (Sec. 429) into the Fiscal Year 2009 Omnibus Appropriations bill that would allow the Department of Interior to regulate greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. Section 429 allows the Interior Department to withdraw two Endangered Species Act rules (one on Section 7 consultation and another on polar bears) within 60 days of enactment.

This would allow the Obama Administration to change rules without any public notice or public comment period, and threatens efforts to create new jobs in an already strapped economy.

If the rules are withdrawn, then any project that increases carbon dioxide or any greenhouse gas emissions could have to consult with the US Fish &Wildlife Service on mitigation against the potential impacts on global warming and harming of the polar bear, or else face potential lawsuits. The threat posed to job creation and our economy would not only impact energy production, but agricultural practices, increases in livestock numbers, construction of buildings such as schools or hospitals, and any other activity that emits greenhouse gas.

“This is a backdoor maneuver to create vast new climate change powers without any public comment or involvement by the American people,” said Doc Hastings, Ranking Member of the House Natural Resources Committee. “Reaching far beyond the Arctic home of polar bears, this action would put economic activity across the entire United States at risk. If a school needs to be built in Florida, do they really need to seek permission from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife to ensure that construction won’t harm polar bears in Alaska?

“No one argues with the need to assure the conservation of the polar bear, but this rider isn’t about protecting the polar bear. It’s about trying to exploit the listing of the polar bear as a ‘threatened’ species to regulate activities around the U.S. that emit CO2 and other greenhouse gases,” continued Hastings. “This creates a great legal uncertainty that threatens our entire economy. If the sponsors of the rider think the special rule concerning the polar bear should be withdrawn, then why don’t they petition the Secretary of Interior to undertake an open process requiring public comment and independent scientific analysis as established under the law? What are they trying to hide?”

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Contact: Jill Strait (202) 226-2311

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