Congressional Tally Documents $852 Million Wasted in 1999 on Envir

wafcdc at americanlands.org wafcdc at americanlands.org
Thu Jan 20 16:10:01 EST 2000


From: "wafcdc at americanlands.org" <wafcdc at americanlands.org>
Subject: Congressional Tally Documents $852 Million Wasted in 1999 on  Environmentally Harmful Programs

For Immediate Release:  January 20, 2000

Congressional Tally Documents $852 Million Wasted in 1999
on Environmentally Harmful Programs

Green Scissors 2000 Identifies 77 Environmentally Harmful
Spending Subsidies Costing Taxpayers $50 Billion

Washington D.C.-The 106th Congress rejected seven opportunities to cut
wasteful and environmentally harmful subsidies costing taxpayers $852
million in 1999, according to research released by Friends of the Earth
Action, Taxpayers for Common Sense Action and U.S. Public Interest Research
Group.  The groups released the Green Scissors Tally for 1999, which
calculates the cost of congressional votes to taxpayers and the environment.

"Americans should be outraged.  Members of Congress squandered seven
opportunities to slash programs that threaten our environment," said Erich
Pica of Friends of the Earth Action.  "The Green Scissors Tally holds
Congress accountable for their votes against environmental protection."

The Green Scissors Tally for 1999 includes congressional votes on subsidies
that benefit the mining, oil, timber and agriculture industries at the
expense of both taxpayers and the environment.  In total, the Green Scissors
Tally for1999 highlighted four votes in the Senate that could have cut $733
million, and seven votes in the House to cut $831 million in wasteful
government spending.

"Politicians committed to pork barrel politics and special interests have
held taxpayers hostage in an effort to protect these wasteful programs,"
said Cena Swisher of Taxpayers for Common Sense Action.

The Green Scissors Tally also identifies Members of Congress who
demonstrated outstanding leadership and consistently voted to eliminate
wasteful and environmentally harmful spending.  The Tally lists Senator John
Kerry (D-Mass.), Representative Tom Campbell (R-Calif.) and Representative
Christopher Shays (R-Conn.) as Green Scissors Congressional Leaders.  These
Members voted not to waste any taxpayer dollars, and each took the lead on
at least one Green Scissors initiative.

"Congress had the opportunity with these votes to cut polluter pork-special
favors for special interests that harm the environment," said Lexi Shultz, a
staff attorney for U.S. PIRG. "We thank Senator Kerry (D-Mass.) and
Representatives Campbell (R-Calif.) and Shays (R-Conn.) for being leaders in
the fight to end handouts that serve special interests at the expense of the
public interest," she added.

Votes documented in the Green Scissors Tally for 1999 demonstrate the
diversity of issues covered by the Green Scissors Campaign.  Votes include:

House of Representatives
* Money-Losing Timber Sales - Representatives failed to cut $23 million from
the commodity timber sales budget of the Forest Service.  This program
promotes timber industry clearcuts on our National Forests.
* Fossil Fuel Research and Development - Representatives successfully voted
twice to cut a total of $79 million from the coal, petroleum, and diesel
research programs that benefit large, profitable fossil fuel and auto companies.
* Wildlife Services Livestock Protection Program - Representatives failed to
cut $7 million in funding for ineffective attempts to control wolves,
coyotes and other predators for western ranchers.

Senate
* Hardrock Mining Subsidy - Senators voted to weaken virtually only
public-interest oriented portion of the 1872 Mining law, allowing mining
companies to dump unlimited mining waste on public lands for outrageously
low prices.
* Oil Royalties Underpayment - Senators voted to delay the Mineral
Management Service from implementing a rule that would force oil companies
drilling on public lands to pay market-based royalty rates.

Green Scissors 2000

Separately, the research arms of the Green Scissors Campaign consisting of
27 national organizations, led by Friends of the Earth, Taxpayers for Common
Sense and the U.S. PIRG Education Fund, also released the Green Scissors
2000 report.  This report identifies 77 environmentally wasteful programs
that, if cut, could save taxpayers nearly $50 billion.  The report targets
agriculture, energy, natural resources, transportation, and water subsidies
that pollute our natural resources and threaten public health.  Over the
last six years, the Green Scissors coalition has helped to eliminate $24
billion of environmentally harmful subsidies.

There are five new items in the Green Scissors 2000 report which include:

* Deep-Draft Dredging - There are efforts to increase the federal cost share
for harbors attempting to dig deeper navigation channels.  An increase in
the federal cost share would be extremely expensive to taxpayers, and
potentially dig up contaminated dredge waste into the water.
* Federal Crop Insurance - This program directly cost taxpayers $2 billion a
year and encourages farming on marginal lands prone to frequent losses due
to weather.
* Low Frequency Active Sonar - The Navy is developing a sonar system that
threatens to harm aquatic mammals for a diminishing submarine threat.
* Forest Highways Program - The Federal Highway Administration manages a
program that provides money to the Forest Service to pave over forest roads.
Cutting this program would save taxpayers $410 million, and help preserve
the wild nature of our forests.
* Columbia River Deepening - The Army Corps of Engineers wants to dredge the
Port of Portland to a deeper depth.  This will cost taxpayers $200 million
and re-suspend contaminated riverbed sediment.

--xxx--

For a copy of the Green Scissors Tally for 1999, please point your web
browser to www.foeaction.org/tally99.  The Green Scissors 2000 report can be
found on the World Wide Web at www.foe.org/eco/scissors2000.


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