House-Approved Budget Blocks EPA Rules

by | Feb 22, 2011

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The federal spending legislation passed by the House of Representatives early Saturday morning included a slew of amendments blocking funds for the Environmental Protection Agency.

The package cuts billions of dollars from the EPA’s budget, and includes an amendment sponsored by Texas Republicans Ted Poe, Joe Barton and John Carter, denying 2011 funds for the agency’s greenhouse gas regulations, the Hill reported.

The budget for the rest of the fiscal year, passed by the House 235 to 189, would cut $61 billion from the federal government.

When Congress returns from its Presidents’ Day recess, the House and Senate will have just four days to agree on a budget for fiscal year 2011, risking a shutdown of the federal government. The Democratic-controlled Senate has indicated that it will not consider cutting anywhere near as much as the House has.

Another passed amendment, by Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-Va.), blocks funding for the EPA measures to tighten water quality regulations on Appalachian coal mining projects, and an additional amendment by Rep. David McKinley (R-W.Va.) seeks to stop the EPA from blocking Clean Water Act permits for mountaintop removal mining.

And another amendment proposed by McKinley would block EPA funds for regulating coal ash under the hazardous waste title of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, one method that the EPA has been considering for regulation of the coal power plant byproduct.

Other amendments passed with the bill would:

  • Block the Interior Department from using fiscal year 2011 funds for rules designed to protect streams from mountaintop mining waste;
  • Keep the EPA from permitting higher amounts of ethanol in newer vehicles, as the agency did in a ruling last month;
  • Block the EPA from using the bill’s funds for regulations to cut mercury and other emissions from cement kilns;
  • Stop EPA funding for tougher air pollution standards on coarse particulates.

On Friday the EPA announced it is seeking public input on how it should structure a plan to review its regulations. The agency will hold a public meeting on the plan on March 14.

The EPA’s announcement is a response to president Barack Obama’s executive order last month, requiring agencies to develop preliminary regulatory review plans within the next 120 days. Obama called on agencies to eliminate outdated regulations that have a negative impact on the economy.

But the review is likely to give the EPA’s opponents another chance to challenge its greenhouse gas regulations, the Hill said.

Several members of the Senate committee on environment and public works condemned the House bill. Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) called it an “irresponsible attack on the nation’s landmark environmental and public health laws.”

A poll conducted by the American Lung Association (ALA) last week found that 64 percent of Americans either strongly or somewhat oppose efforts to take away the agency’s climate authority, and 30 percent support those efforts.

Picture credit: Cliff

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