House Republicans Massively Chop Funding for Wildlife, Clean Water and Air
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WASHINGTON, DC, July 14, 2011 (ENS) - The Republican-led House Appropriations Committee has approved a restrictive spending bill for Fiscal Year 2012 that allows uranium mining on public lands adjacent to the Grand Canyon, prohibits funding for the U.S. EPA to set greenhouse gas standards, and exempts oil and utility companies from the Clean Air Act.
The EPA's budget would be cut by $1.5 billion and the Interior Department would take a $715 million hit under the bill passed by the House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday.
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 President Barack Obama's budget request for the Department of the Interior, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Forest Service, and other independent and related agencies.
The Republican members of the committee have used the bill to take aim at the EPA in particular.
House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers, of Kentucky, said, "This bill sends a strong message that the EPA's 'legislation by regulation' and commandeering of congressional authority is opposed by a strong bi-partisan contingent of lawmakers."
However, the voting record contradicts Rogers' claim of bi-partisanship. The bill passed out of committee by a vote strictly along party lines and now goes to the full House for a vote.
The Appropriations Committee's Ranking Member, Norm Dicks of Washington, said the 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."
"Overall, the allocation for this bill is seven percent below the amount enacted in the current year - a level that will have a negative impact on our natural resource agencies and on the Environmental Protection Agency. After the EPA took a substantial cut of 16 percent in the current fiscal year, the Republican Majority is now proposing a further reduction in the agency's budget of 18 percent," said Dicks.
"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," Dicks said. "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."
Chairman Rogers is straightforward about the bill's intent to handcuff the EPA. "The legislation caps EPA personnel and takes explicit action to address EPA's wrong-headed greenhouse gas regulations, its de facto moratorium on mining permits in Appalachia, its attack on the cement and utility industries through unsolicited revisions to the Clean Air Act, and its obstruction of oil and gas permitting in the Outer Continental Shelf," he said Wednesday.
"The actions taken in this funding bill related to the EPA are for good purposes - to rein in excessive spending and stop job-killing regulations," Rogers said. "While the original mission of EPA was to maintain the health of our citizens and prevent future environmental degradation, this agency has become the poster child for this administration's widespread regulatory overreach and is as a result putting mining, manufacturing, and farming families out of business at a time when some Kentucky counties have 18 percent unemployment."
Democratic Congressman Jim Moran of Virginia, ranking member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior and Environment, called the bill a "poorly crafted, negligently funded, pre-meditated attack on the health of our people and the environment."