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Feature: Anti-Environmental Riders

A significant assault on health and environmental protection is underway in Congress.  Lawmakers must pass 12 spending bills for fiscal 2012 to fund the government, and some House Republicans are seizing this opportunity to jam through unpopular anti-environmental policies that have nothing to do with spending.  These anti-environmental provisions are called “riders” because they ride along on spending bills even though they do not cut federal spending one cent.  They are bad policies pushed forward through a bad process. 

Riders are an end-run around Congressional procedures; they are designed to limit scrutiny and to push through policies that would otherwise never make it into law.  Riders generally are not subjected to hearings or full debates.  And by adding riders, Republicans are trying to take the spending bill hostage.  They are saying to the Senate, “Go along with these anti-environmental policies, or we’ll keep the government from getting funded.” 

On the final spending bill for 2011, House Republican leaders and Tea Party legislators attached 19 riders to block protections for clean air, clean water, wilderness lands and wild life. Because of this broad assault on the environment, the House 2011 spending bill was branded “the worst environmental bill in history.” Thanks to resistance from Senate Democratic leaders and President Obama, most of those riders didn’t make it into law.    

Now, Congress is starting to consider spending bills for 2012, and the Republicans in the House are at it again.  This page will track what riders are being added, their impact on the public, and who’s responsible.

From NRDC President Frances Beinecke: The Choice Is Clear: Public Health vs. Polluters

Latest blog posts about Anti-Environmental Riders:

A Time of Year to Remember Our Successes

Posted December 20, 2015 by Scott Slesinger

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Understandably, the environmental community tends always to focus on what still needs to be done. But sometimes that causes us, problematically, not to recognize our victories. As 2015 comes to an end, it's important to realize that a Republican-led Congress...continued

September 2015 Legislative Update on the Endangered Species Act

Posted September 30, 2015 by Elly Pepper

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(C) Gregory Smith Everyone needs good news sometimes. And writing about the legislative threats to the Endangered Species Act (ESA) each month has been getting me down. That's why, going forward, I'm also going to include positive legislative efforts...continued

Are there other VWs out there?

Posted September 22, 2015 by Scott Slesinger

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After more than a year of investigation, EPA discovered that Volkswagen AG, Audi AG and Volkswagen Group of America deliberately cheated the emissions test of the Environmental Protection Agency. The company circumvented Clean Air Act laws with the use of...continued

June & July 2015 Legislative Threats to the Endangered Species Act

Posted August 3, 2015 by Elly Pepper

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(C) Fish and Wildlife Service The last two months have not only been a whirlwind--they've also made it abundantly clear just how vulnerable the Endangered Species Act ("ESA") is from congressional threats, despite recent polling indicating that over 90%...continued

Holding the Government Hostage to Force Environmental Rollbacks

Posted June 17, 2015 by Scott Slesinger

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The House and Senate Republican leadership are using must-pass spending bills to launch a sweeping attack on environmental progress. They are trying to block every significant move to improve protection of our health and environment, and they are working to...continued

The Republican Blueprint for the Environment

Posted September 3, 2014 by Scott Slesinger

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Over the past 3 years, the U.S. House of Representatives has passed literally hundreds of provisions that would roll back laws and standards that protect our climate, our drinking and surface water, our air, and our public lands.  The press...continued

Don't be a Stooge: What's at stake in the Republican assault on environmental protection

Posted July 28, 2014 by David Goldston

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Congress’ departure from Washington for its annual August recess is a traditional time to take stock of what our legislators have been up to.  In recent years, this has too often degenerated into mere lampooning, obscuring how deadly in earnest...continued

What does the Republican Party have against elephants?

Posted July 8, 2014 by Andrew Wetzler

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Every once and a while, House Republicans really make me scratch my head. I’m used to the endless anti-environmental “riders” attached to bills that fund the federal government, just one part of a systematic assault on environmental protection that has...continued

Paperwork Reductions or Life-Saving Standards?

Posted April 15, 2014 by Scott Slesinger

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EPA priorities: Does this make sense to anyone? Appropriators and the Administration need to decide what is more important -- health and the environment or paperwork reduction. The hazardous waste industry has been working over a decade to replace its...continued

Screwing Around with Efficiency: Congress' Cheap Light Bulb Stunt Could Be Costly for Consumers, Jobs and the Clean Energy Economy

Posted January 17, 2014 by Kit Kennedy

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The $1.1 trillion-dollar budget bill just passed by Congress will avoid a government shutdown and fund the government until October, but it includes a couple of screwed-up provisions – called “riders” -- as concessions to conservative House members. One affects...continued


Switchboard is the staff blog of the Natural Resources Defense Council, the nation’s most effective environmental group. For more about our work, including in-depth policy documents, action alerts and ways you can contribute, visit

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