Tuesday, July 23, 2013

GOP "Proud" Proposed Budget Cuts Will Put "Check" On EPA

Jul 23: The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related agencies voted 7-4, in a straight party line vote, to approve a funding bill that would make major cuts to critical U.S. EPA and Great Lakes Programs. The legislation includes funding for the Department of the Interior, the U.S. EPA, the Forest Service, and various independent and related agencies. The Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes (HOW) Coalition points out that the bill "slashes the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) funding by nearly 80 percent -- from the current level of $285 million to a proposed $60 million for fiscal year 2014. GLRI funds projects to clean up toxic contamination, reduce runoff from cities and farms, control invasive species, and restore fish and wildlife habitat.
    Overall, the bill funds the EPA at $5.5 billion, a reduction of $2.8 billion -- or 34% -- below the fiscal year 2013 enacted level. HOW also indicated that the bill also "slashes funding" to the Clean Water State Revolving Loan fund, the national program that helps communities fix old sewers to keep beaches open and protect drinking water supplies. The bill also cuts that program by more than 80 percent -- from the current level of $1.03 billion to a proposed $250 million for fiscal year 2014. A Republican Subcommittee release indicates that, the legislation also includes provisions to rein in various problematic, costly, and potentially job-killing regulatory actions by the Administration. Some of these provisions include: language related to the "stream buffer rule"; changes to the definition of "navigable waters" under the Clean Water Act; "new source" performance standards; "silviculture" regulations; changes to the definition of "fill material;" and new financial assurance requirements for hard rock mining.
    Todd Ambs, campaign director for HOW said, "The nation is at a crossroads. We urge public officials to keep restoration efforts on track by restoring funding to successful Great Lakes efforts and embracing a plan that puts the Lakes on a path toward recovery. Cutting successful Great Lakes programs will not save the nation one penny. It will only cost taxpayers more, because projects will only become more difficult and expensive the longer we wait." HOW said a funding bill in the House Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Subcommittee 
    Joel Brammeier, co-chair of HOW and President and CEO of the Alliance for the Great Lakes said, "Cuts of this magnitude would bring Great Lakes programs to a halt. At a time when communities are facing a staggering backlog of work to keep sewage out of our lakes and rivers, the nation needs to increase -- not cut -- these investments, which are critical for the environment and economy."   

    Subcommittee Chairman Mike Simpson (R-ID) commented on the bill saying, "Simply put, this bill makes very difficult choices in an extremely tough budget environment. In order to fund critical 'must-do' priorities, like human health, public safety, and treaty obligations and responsibilities, we've had to reduce and even terminate some programs that are popular with both Members of Congress and the American people. Within challenging budget constraints, we've focused on providing adequate funding to fight and prevent wildfires, making sure our national parks stay open, and meeting our trust responsibilities to American Indians. Paying for these critical priorities comes at a price to many agencies and activities throughout the bill. We are going to continue to see these kinds of dramatic reductions as long as we keep trying to reduce the debt by cutting discretionary spending alone, rather than also tackling mandatory spending, which is the real driver of our debt."    

    Full Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY) said, "The vast majority of the cuts fall on the Environmental Protection Agency, which is reduced by $2.8 billion, a full 34% down from FY13. That is no accident. As the American economy struggles to get up to speed, this Agency has introduced countless regulatory obstacles to growth and job creation, all without approval from Congress. The fruit of this labor has been readily apparent in southeastern Kentucky. In exchange for the use of millions of taxpayer dollars, the EPA helped to put 5,700 Kentucky miners in the unemployment lines between 2011 and 2012. New regulations and the uncertain business environment they create have shuttered coal plants nationwide. One-fifth of this country's coal fleet has been retired under this Administration, with many more to come unless something is done about it. The closure of one of those plants, Big Sandy in my District, will mean a further 120 jobs lost and a rate hike of between eight and a whopping thirty-one percent for customers throughout the region.

    "And now the President wants to put the nail in the coffin by regulating greenhouse gases on new and existing power plants, regardless of fuel source. This is a regulatory tilting of the playing field in favor of other energy sectors that will prove disastrous for the American families, businesses, and our energy security. It is no wonder that the White House talking points memo on these regulations explicitly advised staff to avoid discussion of 'net job numbers,' as these New Source Performance Standards have been forecasted to add hundreds of thousands to the unemployment lines. The pain already felt in Appalachia will be known across the country if these regulations are allowed to take effect. I am proud to say that this legislation serves as a check on the EPA, reducing its operations funding and prohibiting this harmful regulatory energy tax and several other proposed rules that would serve only to harm our economic recovery."

    Access a summary of the bill and link to the draft text of the bill (click here). Access the Republican markup meeting website for a video including the record vote, Republican statements and the bill text (click here). Access a lengthy release from HOW with additional details (click here). Access a summary of the bill and link to the draft text of the bill (click here). [#All, #GLakes]

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