A House subcommittee has approved a spending bill for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for fiscal year 2013 that seeks to drastically cut back on new federal environmental rules through the simple expedient of imposing major budget cuts on the agency. In years past House Republicans used prohibitory language in appropriations acts to bar the EPA from spending money to write or carry out certain rules opposed by business interests.
Far easier now to simply eliminate funding for large parts of the agency’s programs. The $28 billion appropriations bill that was marked up in subcommittee on Wednesday provides only $7 billion for the EPA in FY 2013. This represents a 17 percent cut that would bring environmental funding to a level below the FY 1998 total. The bill caps the number of agency employees at their lowest level since 1992.
“The bill reins in funding and out-of-control regulation at the EPA and reduces overall spending for the third year in a row,” according to a press release from Rep. Mike Simpson (R-ID), chair of the Interior-Environment Appropriations Subcommittee.
The bill reduces the EPA’s Clean Water State Revolving Fund for wastewater infrastructure by $778 million, or more than half from FY 2012, to $689 million, and cuts the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund by $89 million to $829 million.
“Despite the hyperbole of some of my Republican friends, EPA programs and regulations did not cause this recession, and tying the hands of this important agency certainly won’t get us out — that idea is as fictional as recent reports of EPA
drones,” said Rep. Norm Dicks (D-WA), senior Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee.
The bill adopts a new tack by House Republicans, who added numerous amendments to the FY 2012 act that were designed to roll back or limit EPA regulation. The Republican leadership had to pull the FY 2012 bill last year amid a surge of amendments. Republicans were forced to put the EPA spending bill in an omnibus appropriations measure that largely spared the agency from deep cuts.