Environmental groups are livid over Republicans' use of riders that ease the impact of several key environmental rules attached to the catch-all appropriations bill passed by Congress in October. Leading the criticism is the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), a New York-based environmental group that has released a 79-page study, Damage Report: Environment and the 105th Congress. The study says that Congress passed only three free standing environmental bills over the last two years, yet enacted 22 anti-environmental riders -- most of them added during last-minute negotiations over the recent appropriations measure. "The 105th Congress relied upon riders as a wholesale substitute for moving free-standing legislation through the House and Senate," says NRDC Legislative Director Gregory Wetstone. "Lost in this unprecedented shift are such fundamental safeguards of the democratic legislative process as public hearings, open debate, and public votes."