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Simpson Cuts EPA Budget, Reins in Regulatory Agenda

Chairman of the House Interior and Environment Appropriations Subcommittee focuses on jobs, economic growth in FY2012 funding bill

Chairman of the House Interior and Environment Appropriations Subcommittee focuses on jobs, economic growth in FY2012 funding bill

 The House Appropriations Committee today marked up the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act for FY2012.  Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson, who chairs the Interior and Environment Subcommittee, put forth a bill that responds to our nation’s fiscal crisis by cutting $2.1 billion from the current fiscal year’s level.  The bill included $1.5 billion in cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency.

“Earlier this year I said that the scariest agency in the federal government is the EPA,” Chairman Simpson said during the markup.  “I still believe that.  The EPA’s unrestrained effort to regulate greenhouse gases and the pursuit of an overly aggressive regulatory agenda are signs of an agency that has lost its bearings.  Wherever I go, the biggest complaint I hear about the federal government is how the EPA is creating economic uncertainty and killing jobs.” 

The FY12 Interior and Environment Appropriations Act includes an 18% cut from current levels.  Taken together with the $1.6 billion cut included in the FY11 continuing resolution passed in April, Simpson has reduced funding for the EPA by nearly a third during the current calendar year.

The bill includes a number of provisions intended to address EPA actions that have created uncertainty in our economy and threaten future economic growth, including:

A provision instituting a one-year prohibition on the regulation of greenhouse gas emissions from stationary sources;

  • A provision prohibiting the EPA from changing the definition of “navigable waterways” under the Clean Water Act;
  • A provision clarifying that aquatic pesticides, which are currently regulated under FIFRA, are not subject to duplicative regulation under the Clean Water Act;
  • A provision requiring agencies to make information regarding payments for legal fees to litigants who sue the federal government available to the public;
  • A provision providing exemptions from greenhouse gas reporting for certain agricultural activities;
  • A provision putting an effective hiring freeze on EPA employees, rejecting the President’s proposal to hire additional regulators;
  • A provision preventing EPA from implementing costly, counterproductive requirements for cooling water intakes at nuclear and other energy plants that would raise energy prices;
  • A provision preventing EPA from expanding federal stormwater discharge program to existing commercial or residential properties without meeting congressional requirements;
  • A provision maintaining EPA’s current regulations exempting forest practices—including forest roads—from point source permitting requirements under the Clean Water Act;
  • A provision preventing EPA from implementing regulations to identify coal ash as a hazardous waste.

During the Committee markup, additional amendments were adopted that would:

  • Prohibit EPA from implementing proposed rules, including flawed Utility Maximum Achievable Control Technology (MACT) standards, unachievable standards on the Portland cement industry, and the Transport rule, that would devastate domestic manufacturing and energy production;
  • Prohibit EPA from regulating the use of the word "green" on lawn product labels;
  • Prevent EPA from regulating animal emissions of ammonia under the Clean Air Act standard for nitrogen oxide;
  • Prohibit EPA from usurping state authority over financial assurance regulations for hardrock mining;
  • Prevent EPA from regulating farm dust;
  • Prohibit EPA from designating areas that were flooded in the Midwest earlier this year as wetlands to be regulated under the Clean Water Act.

“If we really want to do something about the national deficit, we need to get our economy going again.  Unfortunately, the EPA is the wet blanket that is preventing small businesses, farmers, and ranchers from investing in their businesses and creating jobs,” said Simpson.  “The provisions in this bill are about jobs.  They are about creating certainty in the marketplace and assuring businesses that it is safe to start hiring people again without the threat of the EPA—under the guise of protecting the environment—imposing millions of dollars of penalties through regulations that are unreasonable or simply defy common sense.”

The FY12 Interior and Environment Appropriations Act was passed by the House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday night.  It will be considered on the floor of the House of Representatives in the coming weeks.