Vote Explanation for H.R. 5055 — Fiscal Year 2017 Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act

I voted against H.R. 5055, the legislation appropriating funds for the Department of Energy, the Army Corps of Engineers, and several other agencies. I voted against this bill, not because I don’t believe these agencies should be funded, but because this bill contained harmful provisions that undermine our bedrock environmental policies and existing energy infrastructure projects in Massachusetts.

This bill contained a carve out to mountaintop removal coal miners — an environmentally destructive process that levels entire mountains — that would allow for coal ash to be exempt from clean water protections. After last summer’s Gold King Mine collapse in Colorado, which resulted in the massive discharge of heavy metals into the Skagway River, we should be considering how we can clean up old mines, not exempting existing operations from clean water protections.

Moreover, the bad provisions of this bill went far beyond giveaways to fossil fuel producers. Indeed, the bill also included a rider that would prohibit the implementation of the Northeast Ocean Plan. As you may know, Massachusetts has led the way in the creation of the first regional ocean plan, which was just released yesterday. This plan has been a labor of love for the many stakeholders in Massachusetts who depend on our ocean resources, yet this bill would block this important project from coming to fruition.

For all the reasons articulated above, I voted against this bill, which failed in a vote of 112 to 305. While I voted against this legislation because of its bad environmental provisions, many House Republicans opposed the bill because it contained an important amendment offered by Representative Sean Patrick Maloney that ensures the protection of LGBT workers from discrimination. While I did not support the bill, I remain steadfast in my support of Mr. Maloney’s amendment.