Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Senate spending bill trims EPA spending, blocks regs - Udall opposes

A Senate panel on Tuesday approved a GOP-backed spending bill that blocks regulations issued by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The Senate’s 2017 Interior and environment spending bill provides $32 billion to the EPA and Interior Department programs — about $1 billion less than President Obama requested in his budget and slightly less than what House Republicans are aiming for. The bill includes a handful of policy riders designed to block environmental regulations, and it cuts funding for enforcing those rules currently on hold in the courts system, the “areas where the EPA has clearly overstepped its bounds,” Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) said during a subcommittee hearing on Tuesday. The bill blocks the EPA’s Clean Water Rule — also known as the “Waters of the United States" rule — as well as some mining regulations. It trims the EPA’s $8.1 billion budget by $31.2 million, but Republicans noted it maintains or increases spending for agency clean drinking water programs.  Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) previewed Democrats’ opposition to the bill in the full Appropriations Committee later this week and, eventually, when it hits the floor. “In many ways I feel like it’s deja vu all over again and it’s very frustrating,” he said, noting past GOP efforts to block EPA rulemaking in spending bills. “Democrats have been clear — the White House has been clear — we are not prepared to gut environmental laws to get spending bills passed.” Among other things, the Senate’s bill increases spending for new parks and maintenance across the National Park Service to mark the agency’s 100th anniversary. It also increases funding for Forest Service firefighting efforts. The Appropriations Committee will consider the bill Thursday...more

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