Wednesday, July 13, 2011

House Committee Approves Major FY12 Cuts & Riders For EPA, DOI

Jul 12: The full House Appropriations Committee approved the Fiscal Year 2012 Interior and Environment Appropriations bill. The legislation includes annual funding for the Department of the Interior, the Environment Protection Agency (EPA), the Forest Service, and various independent and related agencies. The Interior, Environment & Related Agencies Subcommittee approved the bill on July 7 [See WIMS 7/7/11]. The bill includes major cuts to U.S. EPA, the Department of Interior and other agencies, as well as a large number of special-interest riders. More riders were added to the final bill.

    In total, the bill includes $27.5 billion in spending -- a reduction of $2.1 billion below last year's level and $3.8 billion below the President's budget request. The legislation cuts climate change programs by a total of $83 million, or 22% from last year, and decreases land acquisition funding by $239 million, or 79%. In addition, the legislation also includes several provisions (i.e. riders) aimed at reining in, what Republicans are calling "out-of-control federal bureaucracies and overly burdensome regulations that harm American businesses and hinder economic recovery."

    House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers (R-TX) said. "This legislation is a great example of the hard but necessary work the Appropriations Committee is doing to get our fiscal house in order by cutting extraneous, duplicative and unnecessary spending. The cuts in this bill were not easy and they were not taken lightly, but they are responsible and necessary to move our country in the right direction. In addition, the bill reins in out-of-control regulation at the EPA -- the poster child for the Administration's widespread regulatory overreach that is hurting nearly every sector of our recovering economy." Interior Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Mike Simpson (R-ID) said, "We are living at a time of record deficits and debt. If there's one thing we should have learned from the last Congress, it's that we can't spend our way to economic recovery. At the end of the day, what this Committee is attempting to do in this bill is reduce spending, create more certainty in the marketplace, and promote an economic environment conducive to job growth." 

    Appropriations Committee Ranking Democratic Member Representative Norm Dicks (D-WA) said, "It is my unfortunate duty to have to -- once again -- point out that the Republican leadership has proposed an exceedingly low subcommittee allocation. And there is no surprise that the resulting bill will devastate the environment and our ongoing efforts to preserve America's natural heritage. Two key examples of this potential damage are that the bill includes the lowest level of spending in the Land and Water Conservation Fund in more than 40 years and funding levels for EPA not seen in more than a decade. . . This bill would substantially diminish the capacity of EPA to carry out its responsibilities – which may actually be the goal of some of my colleagues on the other side. But the repercussions will be felt across the nation, including an ever-growing backlog of water treatment infrastructure projects and a decline in air and water quality. . . In addition to the clearly insufficient levels of funding across the board in this legislation, we were surprised that the Majority also included a wish list of special-interest riders to the bill that will handcuff the EPA and the Department of the Interior. These types of riders are largely ideological, have no impact on deficit reduction and most will be rejected by the Senate and the President. It seems that special-interest riders have become the new earmarks."
    Ranking Member of the Subcommittee Jim Moran (D-VA) said, "Mr. Chairman, the list of legislative riders and funding limitations in the bill is long: NEPA waivers, limitations on judicial review, the blocking of pollution controls and yes, even exposing that American icon, the Grand Canyon, and the millions of Americans who depend on the Colorado River for their drinking water, to the long and well known hazards of uranium mining. These riders have nothing to do with budget cuts or deficit reduction and everything to do about carrying out an ideological agenda. . ."
    Some of the additional riders that were added to the bill include:
  • An amendment that prevents the EPA from being forced to implement a biological opinion related to pesticides and the Endangered Species Act. This will allow time for an independent scientific review on the issue to be completed.
  • Language to direct the EPA to conduct a study on the economic impact of a rule requiring installation of catalytic converters on certain engines.
  • Language requiring the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE) to provide quarterly reports to Congress on the status of permits, as well as reasons permits were denied.
  • An amendment to prohibit funding for the EPA to implement regulations on Portland cement.
  • An amendment to prohibit funding for the EPA to implement the "lead contractor" rule until the agency approves a commercially available lead paint test kit.
  • An amendment to prohibit funding for the EPA to implement or enforce numeric Florida Water Quality Standards.
  • An amendment to prohibit funding for the EPA to finalize a new greenhouse gas standard for automobiles after model year 2017.
  • An amendment to prohibit funding for the EPA to develop additional financial assurance requirements for hard rock mining operations.
  • An amendment to prohibit states from receiving EPA Great Lakes funding if they have adopted ballast water requirements that are more stringent than federal requirements.
  • An amendment to prohibit funding for the EPA to implement a regulation to restrict information provided on pesticide labels.
  • An amendment to prohibit funding for the EPA to implement regulations related to ammonia emissions such as those created by agricultural operations.
  • An amendment inserts report language to direct the EPA to do a cumulative assessment of the impacts of EPA regulations, and prohibits funding for the "Utility MACT" and "Transport" rules.
    Access a Republican Committee release on the approval with a listing of all approved amendments (click here). Access the full text of the bill (click here). Access the Committee report for the bill (click here). Access a release from Rep. Dicks (click here). Access a release from Rep. Moran (click here); and another (click here). [*All]