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July 24, 2013
Bill would cut EPA funds by 34 percent

Only days after being voted in by the Senate as the EPA administrator, Gina McCarthy received a blunt signal that House Republicans do not view her approval as a reason to pause in their efforts to diminish the power of the Agency over U.S. industry.

The demonstration was provided by the House Appropriations Committee, which released a draft of its fiscal year 2014 Interior and Environment Appropriations bill with a $2.9 billion cut (34 percent of the 2013 enacted level) in funds to the Agency.  In a statement, there was no ambiguity to the Committee’s intentions.

“The legislation reflects significant efforts to rein in the EPA—an agency that has been rife with governmental overreach, overspending on ineffective and unnecessary programs, and costly and questionable regulations,” stated the Committee.
The bill must still be voted on by the full House.  Also, there is no chance the Democratic majority will agree to the sweeping cuts.    

War on coal

Specific provisions in the bill reflect the antipathy of Committee Chair Hal Rogers to EPA’s efforts to rein in the coal mining industry that provides extensive employment in Rogers’ home state of Kentucky.  Some of these provisions include language related to the stream buffer rule, changes to the definition of navigable waters under the Clean Water Act, and changes to the definition of fill materials

The bill would also bar the EPA from using authorized funds to develop GHG New Source Performance Standards for new or existing electric power plants.  The day after President Obama announced his Climate Action Plan, Rep. Rogers delivered a speech on the House floor, reiterating claims by Appalachian lawmakers that the administration was waging a “war on coal” and that the president’s plan is the “latest job-killing bomb to be dropped on Kentucky, West Virginia, Illinois, and dozens of other coal states already knocked down after four years of anti-coal policies.”  The climate plan contains specific schedules for the EPA to issue GHG emissions rules for new and existing fossil-fuel power plants.

In addition, the bill continues a cap on EPA’s personnel at the 1992 level, cuts operational accounts by $921 million (20 percent), cuts the office of the EPA administrator by more than 30 percent, cuts the EPA Congressional Affairs office by 50 percent, and makes other cuts and reductions to programs within the agency.

Increase for fire fighting

Also under the bill there would be:

  • A $149 million increase for the U.S. Forest Service, mainly related to wildfire prevention and suppression.
  • A $401 million reduction for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, cutting operations costs by 18 percent but maintaining funding for programs such as endangered species recovery, invasive species, and prevention of illegal wildlife trafficking. 
  • A $101 million reduction for the U.S. Geological Survey, mainly for programs related to climate change and ecosystems. 
  • No funding is included for other environmental programs, including Clean Automotive Technologies Climate Change Research, Community Action for a Renewed Environment, Brownfields grants, and Community Forest and Open Space Conservation. 

The bill was scheduled to be considered in subcommittee on July 23, 2013. 

Click here for a draft of the House Interior and Environment Appropriations bill.

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