Anti-Environmental Riders Popping Up on Spending Bills

With a raft of must-pass spending bills making their way through Congress this month, a handful of crafty lawmakers are tacking on unrelated anti-environmental provisions, or “riders,” in hopes of circumventing the usual legislative process. Perhaps the craftiest of all is Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), head of the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee, who has authored one amendment that would prevent the feds from spending any money to study and protect fish habitat in the North Pacific and another that would limit legal challenges to timber sales in Alaska’s Tongass National Forest. Meanwhile, a rider written by Sen. Christopher Bond (R-Mo.) would prevent California from imposing stricter emissions rules on small engines such as those in lawn mowers, and a rider drawn up by Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) would let the U.S. EPA extend the deadline for states to meet air-quality standards, a change that enviros say would lead to people breathing dirtier air.