Idaho’s Simpson: Cut EPA budget 35%, block Obama climate change gambit

Idaho Republican Congressman Mike Simpson’s Appropriation’s subcommittee on Tuesday approved a budget cutting Environmental Protection Agency spending by $2.9 billion, trimming spending to fiscal 1978 levels.

Simpson, who chairs the Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies, also included language preventing EPA from using regulations to implement President Obama’s climate change initiative.

“This Administration’s appetite for new regulations and disregard for the will of Congress have left us with little choice but to block his climate change agenda in this bill,” Simpson said in a news release Tuesday. “The actions we’ve taken to address the EPA’s overreach and reduce its budget not only help us meet the tight spending constraints under which we’re operating, they help our struggling economy and encourage job creators to invest and expand.”

The cuts were approved on a 7-5 party-line vote. The full Appropriations Committee is expected to take up the measure next week, one of 12 spending bills for fiscal 2014.

The Senate, controlled by Democrats, is unlikely to back such large cuts. That could mean a House-Senate conference committee on the spending bill. Or, if there’s an impasse, a continuing resolution authorizing spending based on the current budget. The federal fiscal year begins Oct. 1.

Two Simpson’s news releases follow, the first from Tuesday morning, the second from the afternoon:

Interior Appropriations Bill Prevents EPA from Implementing Climate Change

 

Subcommittee Chairman Mike Simpson – “This Administration’s appetite for new regulations and disregard for the will of Congress have left us with little choice but to block his climate change agenda in this bill.”

 

Washington, D.C. – Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson today brought the Interior and Environment Appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2014 for a subcommittee vote. Simpson, who chairs the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior and Environment Appropriations, put forth a bill that complies with the House Budget by cutting funding for agencies under the subcommittee’s jurisdiction by over $5 billion.

 

The bill included $2.9 billion in cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency.  This amounts to a 35% cut from current levels and brings the agency’s budget below FY 1978 levels. The bill also includes language preventing EPA from implementing the cornerstone of President Obama’s recently-announced climate change initiative.

 

“This Administration’s appetite for new regulations and disregard for the will of Congress have left us with little choice but to block his climate change agenda in this bill,” said Simpson. “The actions we’ve taken to address the EPA’s overreach and reduce its budget not only help us meet the tight spending constraints under which we’re operating, they help our struggling economy and encourage job creators to invest and expand.”

 

The bill includes a number of additional provisions to rein in EPA overreach and some of the costly regulatory actions being put out by the Obama Administration, including protection for farmers and ranchers from having personal information released by the agency, changes to the definition of navigable water under the Clean Water Act, and language regarding regional haze.

 

The House Interior and Environment Appropriations Subcommittee marked up the bill today.  It is expected to be taken up by the full Appropriations Committee next week.

Afternoon release:

Interior Appropriations Bill Passes Subcommittee

Simpson includes provisions to reauthorize PILT funding, renew grazing permits, delay listing of sage-grouse and prevent EPA from expanding jurisdiction of navigable waters

 

Washington, D.C. – Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson today brought his FY14 appropriations bill for the Department of the Interior, the Forest Service, the EPA, and related agencies before the subcommittee.  Simpson chairs the subcommittee, which oversees the budget for agencies under its jurisdiction.  The FY14 appropriations bill reflects current budgetary challenges by reducing funding by over $5 billion overall.

 

On releasing the budget, Simpson noted that the difficult budget environment required making difficult decisions.  “During our oversight hearings this year, we’ve stressed the need to separate the critical ‘must-do’ priorities from those that are nice or even very important,” said Simpson.  “This means we’ve reduced and even terminated some programs that are popular with both Members of Congress and the American people in order to provide critical funding to fight and prevent wildfires, make sure our national parks stay open, and address human health, public safety, and treaty obligations and responsibilities.”

 

The FY14 Interior and Environment Appropriations subcommittee mark funds programs under the subcommittee’s jurisdiction at $24.3 billion, which is a cut of $5.5 billion from the current fiscal year.  This means that the bill has seen a 25% reduction since FY10 under Simpson’s chairmanship.

 

Simpson’s bill focuses its limited resources on critical priorities like wildfire funding.   The bill fully funds wildfire suppression accounts at the 10-year average and provides additional funding to prevent fire borrowing this year.  It also provides funding for the Forest Service to acquire two next generation aircraft to fight fires, since the current fleet is nearing the end of its useful life.  Recognizing the value and cost effectiveness of preventing wildfires versus fighting them, the bill also increases funding for hazardous fuels removal.

 

The bill includes a number of other provisions, including:

  • A one-year extensive of mandatory authorization for the Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program, which compensates local governments for the loss of income due to the presence of federal land;
  • Permanent extension of language that allows agencies to renew grazing permits while environmental work is completed;
  • Language delaying the listing of the sage-grouse as an endangered species for one year to enable states and federal agencies to complete work on sage-grouse management plans;
  • Language preventing the EPA from expanding its jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act.

 

During the markup, Simpson responded to criticisms of the bill by reminding subcommittee members about the very real fiscal challenges our nation faces.  “One thing I didn’t hear in all of the comments that were made [from the other side of the aisle] is the fact that we are $17 trillion in debt.  $17 trillion.  Now, if you want to talk about leaving a legacy for future generations, let that continue to grow and grow and grow and not have the courage to do anything about it,” Simpson said.  “We are not doing anything different [in this bill] than state legislatures have been doing for about the last four or five years in trying to address their budget problems.  They’ve made tough and ugly decisions all across the board, but we act here like because we’ve got a printing press we are exempt from making those tough decisions.  We’re not exempt; we’re $17 trillion in debt.”

 

To watch Congressman Simpson’s statement from the subcommittee markup, visit his YouTube website. The full Appropriations Committee is expected to take up the bill next week.

 

 

Dan Popkey came to Idaho in 1984 to work as a police reporter. Since 1987, he has covered politics and has reported on 25 sessions of the Legislature. Dan has a bachelor's in political science from Santa Clara University and a master's in journalism from Columbia University. He was a Congressional Fellow of the American Political Science Association and a Journalism Fellow at the University of Michigan. A former page in the U.S. House of Representatives, he graduated Capitol Page High School in 1976. In 2007, he led the Statesman’s coverage of the Sen. Larry Craig sex scandal, which was one of three Pulitzer Prize finalists in breaking news. In 2003, he won the Ted M. Natt First Amendment award from the Pacific Northwest Newspaper Association for coverage of University Place, the University of Idaho’s troubled real estate development in Boise. Dan helped start the community reading project "Big Read." He has two children in college and lives on the Boise Bench with an old gray cat.

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