Sweeping retreat on environment forging ahead in Washington, D.C.

Former Senators Muskie and Stafford join NRDC to warn congress against undermining 25 years of environmental success

supplied by the National Resources Defense Council
he senate leaders who moved Congress to enact its landmark environmental laws in the 1970s and 1980s joined the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) in warning the public of the profound and damaging effects of environmental legislation now racing through Congress.
The bipartisan warning came as the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) released Breach of Faith: How the Contract's Fine Print Undermines America's Environmental Success. The report documents the effects of HR 9, a key bill implementing the House leadership's Contract With America, on nineteen environmental statutes.
Breach of Faith first documents the bureaucratic obstacles that would be imposed on each environmental statute and reviews how those obstacles would apply to the 19 laws.
The key findings of Breach of Faith show that the Contract's legislation would: "Some members of this Congress seem so eager to change Washington that they are losing sight of how damaging their changes can be to people's everyday lives," warned Sen. Edmund Muskie (D-ME), chairman of the Senate Environment Committee in the 1970s and lead author of the original clean air and water acts.
"The proposals before Congress today would overrun our nation's health, safety and environmental protections. They would halt 25 years of accomplishment and turn the clock back to the days when the special interests made the rules and the people absorbed the risks. The good old days weren't all that good when it came to smog, product safety and accidents on the job," Muskie said at the report's release.
"Anyone who remembers the condition of our rivers, air and land 25 years ago knows how much we have accomplished with our environmental laws and how much they have improved the quality of life for us all," commented Sen. Robert Stafford, Senate Environment Committee chairman in the 1980s, in a prepared statement sharply critical of HR9. "We should build on our accomplishments, not reverse them."
Gregory Wetstone, NRDC legislative director and editor of Breach of Faith said the report demonstrates specifically and thoroughly how this legislation would apply to key environmental laws. "In each case, the public would get more red tape, more litigation, more bureaucracy and far less protection. That is the reverse of this Congress's promises. It is a breach of faith to the American people," he said.
Key portions of HR9 have cleared the House Commerce and Judiciary committees. The full bill could reach the House as this issue goes to press.
"This legislation has been assembled so hurriedly and debated so little that members of Congress have no idea how much damage it will do. Certainly, the American people deserve this information," Wetstone said. "They also deserve to know how much we have achieved with our environmental laws. Without a full understanding of what we have, we cannot truly appreciate what may soon be lost."
Copies of Breach of Faith can be ordered from National Resources Defense Council Publications, 40 W. 20th Street, New York, NY 10011 for $7.50 per copy plus $1.45 postage and 7.25 % sales tax (CA residents only.) For more information, call (202) 783-7800.
To let your congressperson know how you feel about HR9, call the Capitol switchboard at (202) 225-3121 and ask to speak with your representative.

The NRDC is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting the world's natural resources and ensuring a safe and healthy environment for all people.