With their party’s national convention just days away, Republicans in the House of Representatives have given us a detailed vision of their environmental agenda. You may be shocked to hear that it would further pollute our air and water and worsen climate change. On Thursday, the House passed its budget bill for the Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Interior on a mostly party-line vote.
The bill would spend $1 billion less on the agencies next year than President Obama requested. That comes on top of severe cuts over the last six years, since Republicans gained control of Congress. “EPA’s budget, not including inflation, is already 20 percent below what it was in 2010,” says Scott Slesinger, legislative director at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “When the budget agreement was done last year for 2016 and they found more money for domestic [programs and defense], the only agency that did not get an increase was EPA.”
Environmentalists are even more upset, though, about the “policy riders” — that’s D.C.-ese for unrelated amendments attached to a spending bill. The most extreme ones would:
- Block implementation of the Clean Power Plan, the EPA’s program for cutting carbon emissions from power plants.
- Stop Interior from completing rules to crack down on mountaintop-removal coal mining.
- Halt Bureau of Land Management rules governing fracking on public land.
- Prevent EPA from implementing its new rule to limit exposure to lead paint.
- Kill the Obama administration’s new rules intended to avert disastrous offshore oil spills.
- Axe the just-released Arctic-specific drilling regulations, meant to address the unusual risks of offshore oil and gas drilling there.
On the bright side, Republicans actually dropped some of the most absurd amendments — such as one that would have prevented EPA employees from flying for work.
Obama threatened to veto this bill before it even passed the full House, so there’s no risk of it actually becoming law. But it’s a handy guide to what Republicans want to do, even if they avoid saying so in prime time this coming week.