by Marissa Moncada
Unbeknownst to most Americans, the Republican-led 104th Congress is waging a secret but deadly war on the environment. Prior to the election, little if anything was said about the environment, but the Republicans had a hidden agenda. Under the guise of creating jobs and enhancing wages, Congress is attacking environmental legislation with the following bills from the Contract with America: 1. RISK ASSESSMENT (H.R. 9, Title III): Imposes a 23-step process on the issuance of all new regulations (environmental and otherwise). Even those regulations that are badly needed to protect our health, safety, and environment will be disallowed if they are costly to business. This provision will cripple the regulation process. The EPA said that regulations on lead would have been delayed 10 years had they been forced to follow this proposed procedure. In an attempt to quantify a dollar value for health, the government estimates a person's "potential earnings," and assigns $4,588 per child for each lost IQ point due to increased lead exposure. [Status: passed House] 2. PRIVATE PROPERTY PROTECTION/ TAKINGS (H.R. 925): Requires the federal government to compensate landowners if the value of their properties is reduced by 20% or more due to any of three environmental laws: Endangered Species Act, wetlands protection, and water rights. Agencies will have to foot the bill from their own budget, and would be paying landowners just to follow the law. Ultimately, since agencies will not want to bankrupt themselves, self-preservation dictates that they will stop enforcing the laws. Who will then compensate the American people for the loss of wetlands and endangered species? 3. UNFUNDED MANDATES (H.R. 5, S. 1): Provides that the federal government cannot issue mandates to states unless they are fully funded. This would include nearly every federal environmental law, such as the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts. Although a loophole allows about 2/3 of mandates to be exempt from this bill, most environmental mandates will fall under this bill. This will allow state governments to ignore Federal environmental and worker safety laws. 4. MORATORIUM ON REGULATIONS (H.R. 50, S. 219): Dictates that there can be no new regulations passed in 1995, and the ones passed since November of last year be rescinded. This will set us back an entire year in the push for a sustainable environment. Concerned that this year's Congress is attempting to annihilate 25 years of environmental laws passed with bipartisan support? Last fall the voters did not vote anti-Green: this is not a Contract With America, it's a Contract ON America!