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For Immediate Release, February 25, 2020
Contact: Stephanie Kurose (202) 849-8395, stephaniekurose@centeractionfund.org

Analysis: Environmental Attacks Decrease in Democratic-controlled House of Representatives

WASHINGTON—A new analysis by the Center for Biological Diversity Action Fund shows that since Democrats regained control of the U.S. House of Representatives in January 2019, legislative attacks on the nation’s bedrock environmental laws—including the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Air Act and the National Environmental Policy Act—have decreased by 34 percent.

In 2019, 175 pieces of anti-environmental legislation were introduced—mostly by Republican members of Congress—compared to the 265 anti-environmental bills during the first year of the 115th Congress when Republicans controlled both the House and Senate. One reason for the significant decrease in attacks is that when Republicans were in the majority, they attached hundreds of harmful policy riders to must-pass pieces of legislation. These “poison-pill” riders would often strip or block protections for imperiled animals and plants, stymie regulatory efforts of the EPA for clean air and water, give away public lands, or undermine public participation in agency decision-making.

“Republicans were hell-bent on destroying our natural heritage to please their campaign donors and dirty industry pals,” said Stephanie Kurose, deputy political strategist with the Center for Biological Diversity Action Fund. “With Democrats in control, our nation’s air and water are cleaner, our wildlife is safer, and our public lands remain in public hands.”

Today’s report, A Slight Reprieve, evaluated legislation introduced in the first year of the 115th and 116th congresses (2017 and 2019) that would weaken the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Air Act, the National Environmental Policy Act and public lands laws.

Other key findings from the report:

    • Attacks on the Endangered Species Act decreased by 45 percent, from 64 bills in 2017 to 35 in 2019.
    • Attacks on public lands decreased by 39 percent, from 141 bills in 2017 to 86 in 2019.
    • Attacks on the National Environmental Policy Act decreased by 29 percent, from 93 bills in 2017 to 66 bills in 2019.
    • Attacks on the Clean Air Act decreased by 49 percent, from 49 bills in 2017 to 25 bills in 2019. Legislation targeting the Clean Air Act were the most partisan, with 100 percent introduced by Republican members of Congress over the past three years.

“It’s encouraging that Congress has shifted its focus to accomplishing other things rather than relentlessly attacking our environment,” said Kurose. “But ultimately we want the number of environmental attacks to be zero. The world is in the midst of an extinction and climate crisis, so even one attack is unacceptable.”

The Center for Biological Diversity Action Fund is a national nonprofit organization that advocates for legislation and legislators that will advance a progressive environmental agenda. The Center for Biological Diversity Action Fund is the 501(c)(4) affiliate of the Center for Biological Diversity, but these organizations’ names are not interchangeable.