House Appropriations Committee Votes to Cut EPA Budget by 17 Percent, Limit Regulatory Authority by Thomas J. Spulak and Claudia A. Hrvatin

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The House Appropriations Committee has approved funding for the Department of the Interior, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and numerous other related agencies for Fiscal Year 2013. Of interest to many in the business community, the $28 billion bill, drafted by Representative Mike Simpson (R-ID), the chairman of the appropriations subcommittee with jurisdiction in this area, includes a 17 percent cut in funding for the EPA and, according to a Committee press release, “also includes legislative provisions that will address the overreach of federal agencies, such as the EPA, that mandate overly burdensome regulatory hurdles that hinder job creation and inhibit the ability of American businesses to grow and thrive.”

The as-yet-unnumbered bill would cut the EPA’s funding to $7 billion for 2013, which represents a $1.4 billion decrease from the prior fiscal year, and $1.7 billion below the President’s request. The cut would largely be achieved by decreasing funding for state clean water and drinking water revolving funds, and climate change related programs.

The legislation includes numerous provisions that would restrict the regulatory reach of the EPA by, for example, preventing the EPA from issuing new financial requirements on companies for hardrock mine cleanups, preventing the EPA from imposing its New Source Performance Standards (NSPS), preventing regulations on the emission of greenhouse gases from motor vehicle engines manufactured after 2016, and preventing the use of funds to establish performance standards related to the emission of any greenhouse gas by a new or existing electric utility generating unit.

The legislation now moves to consideration by the full House, where it is likely to pass in its current form. House Democrats are hopeful that many of their issues with the bill will be addressed when it is received by the Democratically-controlled Senate.