By Timothy Cama - 07/08/14 11:08 AM EDT
House Republicans unveiled a funding bill Tuesday for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that would block proposed rules to limit carbon pollution from power plants and redefine the federal government’s jurisdiction over lakes and streams.
The appropriations bill would give the EPA $7.5 billion for fiscal 2015, 9 percent below 2014’s level. The measure includes $24 million in cuts to the EPA’s administrative programs, such as the administrator’s office and congressional affairs, and also funds the Interior Department.
The proposal would stop the EPA from using any of its funds to work on any rule to limit carbon dioxide pollution from power plants. That ban would include the proposal last month to reduce carbon emissions from existing plants, as well as a plan earlier this year to limit emissions from newly built plants.
Republicans and some Democrats have charged that the rules would decimate the coal industry and raise electricity prices, costing the economy hundreds of thousands of jobs and billions of dollars. Lawmakers in both chambers have introduced bills to stop the proposed rules, both of which the Obama administration counts as priorities in the fight against climate change.
The EPA defended its power plant rules, also known as the Clean Power Plan, and took issue with the funding rider.
“A clean air environment should not be a political issue. Both sides of the aisle want clean, safe air for their children,” EPA spokeswoman Liz Purchia said Tuesday.
“We proposed the Clean Power Plan because it’s the right thing to do to protect public health.”
The June rule would cut power plants’ carbon emissions by 30 percent by 2030. The earlier rule, unveiled in January, set specific emissions limits for new plants that use coal and natural gas.
The Tuesday appropriations bill would also prohibit the EPA from working on the “waters of the United States rule,” which aims to redefine the federal government’s jurisdiction over bodies of water for the purposes of the Clean Water Act. Republicans have characterized it as a massive federal land grab.
Senate Republicans have previously introduced a bill to block the rule, which the EPA is working on jointly with the Army Corps of Engineers. Additionally, the House will vote on a funding bill for the Army this week that would stop that agency from finishing the rule.
The House’s EPA appropriations bill would also continue to withhold funding for a rule that would tighten restrictions on what fill materials companies may dump into waterways. That provision was included in a January bill for 2014 funding as well.