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House GOP offers EPA budget cut, drop policy changes

15 Dec 2011 16:49 GMT
House GOP offer EPA budget cut, drop policy changes

Washington, 15 December (Argus) — House Republicans yesterday introduced a major spending bill that would modestly cut the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) budget for fiscal year 2012 but does not include most of the controversial policy restrictions included in previous legislation.

The omnibus spending bill unveiled last night by House Appropriations Committee chairman Hal Rogers (R-Kentucky) covers nine separate appropriations measures that Congress has not yet passed this year, covering the budgets of EPA, the Departments of Energy (DOE), Interior and several others. Rogers also introduced legislation to provide disaster relief funding and a resolution calling for a 1.8pc across-the-board spending cut to pay for the disaster aid.

“This is a good bill that strikes a reasonable balance between reduced spending, wise federal investments and policy changes that American businesses need to thrive,” Rogers said.

The bill would give EPA $8.4bn, a cut of $233mn from 2011 and $524mn below President Barack Obama's budget request. It would also boost funding for DOE's fossil energy program to $534mn, $81mn above the president's request, while holding funding level for energy programs, including renewables, at $1.8bn. It also includes $76mn for the new Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement at Interior, as well as $60mn for the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement.

Rogers introduced the legislation in a bid to force Senate Democrats to act on the final spending legislation. The Senate Democrats have not signed off on a House-Senate conference report for 2012 spending, as they are using it as a bargaining chip to sway Republican to back separate payroll tax cut legislation.

While the House omnibus bill does not include many of the controversial policy restrictions Republicans have sought in previous spending bills, such as blocking EPA from enforcing any greenhouse gas (GHG) regulations. But the bill would give Interior authority over air permitting for offshore drilling in the Arctic, and would prohibit EPA from requiring livestock operations to report GHG emissions or obtain Title V permits for GHGs. It would also block DOE from enforcing efficiency standards for new light bulbs that take effect next year. It also requires the administration to provide a report on all climate-related spending.

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