Changing Riders in Midstream
Senate Republicans agreed last night to eliminate or change a number of anti-environmental riders that have been tacked onto the Interior Department spending bill, clearing the way for agreement with the White House on a budget deal. GOP leaders consented to allow the feds to charge oil and gas companies a more fair, significantly higher royalty rate for drilling on public lands. A rider that would have allowed mining companies to dump thousands of tons of waste on public land has been weakened. And Sen. Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va.) lifted his threat to hold up a budget deal unless Congress passed a rider that would let coal mining companies continue to dump waste in West Virginia streams. A few GOP riders remain, including one that would automatically renew some ranchers’ grazing permits on federal land.