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Republicans Propose EPA Funding Cuts, Ban on Emissions Rules

Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives unveiled a spending bill Tuesday that slashes funding for the Department of Interior (DOI) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and includes a provision barring the EPA from working on any rule to limit emissions from power plants.

The House Appropriations Committee said the $30.2 billion spending bill represents a $162 million increase above the level enacted for the 2014 fiscal year (FY), but the EPA would be funded at $7.5 billion, a 9% decrease ($717 million) below FY 2014.

The bill calls for cutting administrative funding at the EPA by $24 million, which includes a 50% reduction to the Office of the Administrator, the Office of Congressional Affairs, and the Office of the Chief Financial Officer. The bill also calls for the EPA to maintain staffing levels at 15,000 employees, which would be the lowest total since 1989.

"This bill will ensure the proper management of the nation's vast natural resources, invest in programs for the well-being of our local communities, and help prevent and fight the wildland fires that cause millions of dollars in damages every year, all while keeping a close eye on the spending of each and every tax dollar," said Rep. Hal Rogers (R-KY), who chairs the committee. "In addition, this legislation contains important provisions to rein in the harmful regulatory overreach of federal bureaucracies that will unnecessarily cause job loss and that will weaken our recovering economy."

Rep. Ken Calvert (R-CA), who chairs the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies, said the bill would fund the DOI and EPA with the "resources necessary to carry out their mission in times that are fiscally challenging.

"This bill also protects Americans from the onslaught of job-killing regulations coming from the EPA, and makes difficult decisions to carefully balance national priorities. I am pleased that our subcommittee continues to place an emphasis on producing energy on federal lands, providing robust funding for our wildland fire accounts, and addressing a variety of health, education, and safety needs within Indian Country."

The proposed legislation would also cut $13 million in funding from the DOI's Bureau of Land Management (BLM), but would increase the allocation to the U.S. Geological Survey by $4 million (USGS). The BLM would receive $1.1 billion while the USGS would get $1 billion.

Also of interest, the bill calls for preventing the DOI Secretary from writing or issuing, pursuant to the Endangered Species Act, a proposed rule governing the greater sage grouse or a final rule over the Gunnison sage grouse. In June, The BLM and Wyoming agreed to incorporate a state plan into the federals' resource management plan to protect the greater sage grouse (see Daily GPIJune 26).

Last month, the Obama administration issued proposed new rules to cut carbon emissions from power plants to a level 30% below emissions from 2005, and set a goal of making the cuts by 2030 (see Daily GPIJune 2).

Although the natural gas industry -- including the American Gas Association and America's Natural Gas Alliance -- cautiously endorsed the proposed rules, Republicans and some Democrats in both houses of Congress voiced strong opposition, on the grounds the proposed rules would lead to higher energy costs for customers and would devastate the nation's coal industry.

Also last month, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the EPA lacked the authority, in some cases, to force companies to evaluate ways to reduce carbon dioxide emissions (see Daily GPIJune 23).

The House Appropriations Committee said the bill was to be discussed in subcommittee on Wednesday.

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