While the rest of the country focuses on the looming deadline to raise the nation’s debt ceiling, House Republicans are taking advantage of the distraction to repeal environmental regulations and pass the most severe environmental budget cuts in 35 years. Republicans are pushing a bill that cuts 7 percent from the Department of Interior budget and would reduce EPA funding by a whopping 18 percent — a $1.5 billion cut from current funding levels:
[T]he House of Representatives is busy with legislation aimed at repealing environmental regulations and stymieing conservation efforts.
The Interior and Environmental Protection Agency spending bill for fiscal year 2012 contains policy riders added by panel Republicans to thwart White House-backed initiatives on everything from the EPA’s regulation of greenhouse gas emissions to conservation efforts in the Grand Canyon. It would halt new regulations on mountaintop removal mining and prevent the Fish and Wildlife Service from listing new species under the Endangered Species Act. [...]
But members of the House of Representatives Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition say that Congress should be focused on preventing a default crisis and on creating jobs, not crafting policy riders to rollback essential pollution controls and public health protections.
Mike Simpson (R-ID), chairman of the House Appropriations Committee’s Interior Subcommittee, has made no secret of his disdain for environmental regulations and says his priority is to sharply curtailing the authority of the EPA. “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 bearing,” Simpson insisted in remarks on the House floor Monday.
Republicans on the committee approved 38 riders targeting specific programs including defunding the EPA’s rulemaking on coal ash, mercury and other toxic air pollutants.
The White House has threatened to veto the bill, and dozens of Democrats took to the House floor yesterday to protest the underhanded attempts to defund the EPA at a time of national crisis. The House Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition released a statement warning that the bill “would overturn 40 years of bipartisan progress protecting the clean air and water on which all Americans depend.”
Appropriations Committee Ranking Member Norm Dicks (D-WA) called it “the worst” Interior and Environment Appropriations bill he’s seen in his 35 years on the committee, while Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) lamented, “This is the most anti-environmental House of Representatives in history.”