Ranking Member Pingree Floor Remarks in Opposition to the 2024 Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Funding Bill

2023-11-02 17:35
Statement

Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (D-ME-01), Ranking Member of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Subcommittee, delivered the following remarks on the House Floor in opposition to H.R. 4821, the 2024 Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies bill:

– As Prepared For Delivery –

I ask for unanimous consent to revise and extend my remarks.

As Ranking Member of the Interior and Environment Appropriations Subcommittee, I am deeply concerned about the majority’s lack of urgency to fund the government. The continuing resolution expires in less than three weeks, but instead of getting to work negotiating with the Senate on a full year bill, we are wasting time on bills that violate the terms of the Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023.

I strongly oppose the fiscal year 2024 Interior and Environment Appropriations bill.

This harmful bill debilitates America’s ability to address the climate crisis and hobbles the agencies within its jurisdiction.

It slashes funding for the Environmental Protection Agency by nearly 40 percent -- that is nearly $4 billion less than we appropriated in FY23. It also rescinds more than $7 billion of vital investments provided by the Inflation Reduction Act for the United States to take immediate, economy-wide climate action. Climate change has reached a crisis point and experts agree that we must take bold action to avoid a major, irreversible catastrophe.

In addition to the cut proposed in the State Foreign Ops bill, Republicans’ Interior bill virtually eliminates the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund, which was established by the Inflation Reduction Act to mitigate the costs of climate pollution through investment in low- and zero-emission technologies.

But the damage inflicted by this bill extends far beyond climate change.

This bill wipes out the environmental justice program and cuts $1.4 billion from Environmental and Climate Justice Grants made possible through the Inflation Reduction Act.

It curtails the progress that has been made to ensure that all people are equally protected from environmental and health hazards. This bill abandons our most vulnerable groups that currently bear a disproportionate share of negative environmental impacts, which includes large swaths of rural communities that I, and many of my colleagues across the aisle, represent.

The bill also slashes funding for enforcement of the clean air and clean water acts, which will enable polluters.

The cuts in this bill are so severe that even agencies that usually garner bipartisan support are targeted for damaging reductions.

Funding for the National Park Service, for example, will be cut by 13 percent.

The bill also significantly reduces funding for the Arts and Humanities agencies. The cuts to the Smithsonian Institution and the National Gallery of Art are so deep that they will be forced to reduce the number of hours or days each week that the museums are open to the public.

When our constituents bring their families to see our Nation’s capital, I think all members in this room expect they should have access to these museums. But this bill takes that away.

The bill also fails our nation’s wildland firefighters. It does not provide any of the funding requested by the Administration to support wildland firefighters and their families through better compensation, safe housing, and health and well-being assistance. Without this funding, firefighters will lose the compensation increases first provided in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law at the end of this year.

And, sadly, the bill also contains numerous discriminatory riders, as well as an exhaustive list of anti-environment riders that seek to derail any effort to combat climate change and undermine clean water and clean air protections.

They give an open invitation to exploitative oil, gas, and mineral leasing by blocking environmental regulations and even overriding judicial review. At the same time, the bill suppresses clean energy production. Clean, renewable energy is critical if we are going to save our planet for future generations.

The majority of Americans support becoming carbon neutral by 2050 and they support prioritizing the development of renewable energy sources and preserving biodiversity for the benefit of future generations. The austere and irresponsible cuts in this bill do not align with their values.

I would like to thank Ranking Member DeLauro for her tireless efforts on the Committee and the staff on both sides of the aisle.

I oppose the bill. I urge my colleagues to protect the world you are leaving to your children and grandchildren and oppose the bill and I reserve the balance of my time.

###

118th Congress