Sometimes, attacks on our environment are direct: For example, the bill introduced in May that would block the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Water Rule, the biggest step forward for clean water in a decade.

Other times, the attacks come from sneaky, backdoor avenues: like when anti-environmental policy “riders” crept into the fiscal year 2016 spending bill that the Senate Appropriations Committee passed last week.

If the spending bill passes, those riders would spell disaster for our environment.

The Clean Air Act would be stripped; the EPA’s proposed Clean Water Rule would be blocked; the EPA would be barred from updating ozone standards, which the American Lung Association links to premature death, and worsened asthma in children. The list of harms goes on.

Sen. Susan Collins, a key vote on the Appropriations Committee, voted to protect the Clean Power Plan, the rule that would cut carbon emissions from power plants by 30 percent by 2030. For that, we thank her.

At the same time, she ultimately voted to keep the full package of anti-environmental riders in the bill.

In other words, when the attack was direct, Sen. Collins voted to protect climate action. But when the attacks were enveloped into a larger bill, her vote fell short.

We thank Sen. Collins for supporting the first-ever limits on carbon emissions from power plants that are projected to prevent 150,000 asthma attacks by children nationwide by 2030. Maine has some of the highest rates of asthma in the country. The Clean Power Plan is a no-brainer for our health.

We encourage Sen. Collins to stand strong against big polluters, who are big spenders when it comes to lobbying, and are gearing up for more attacks on our environment – many of which will be of the sneaky, back-door variety.

Mike Curran

Environment Maine