House spending bill boosts fossil fuel research

House spending bill boosts fossil fuel research
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House Republicans are targeting a key part of President Obama’s environmental agenda with a bill to give more money to federal fossil fuel research and less to renewables.

The shift in priorities is part of a $37.4 billion appropriations bill proposed Tuesday by the House GOP to fund programs in the Department of Energy and water infrastructure needs in the Army Corps of Engineers.

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Research and development related to coal, natural gas, oil and other fossil fuels would get $645 million in fiscal 2017 under the bill, a $13 million increase from the 2016 level.

Fossil fuel programs, the Appropriations Committee said, “will help the country make greater use of our rich natural energy resources and help keep down energy costs.”

Programs for renewable energy research and development, which the committee said “have already received significant investments in recent years,” would be slashed by $248 million under the 2016 level and $1.07 billion more than what Obama requested.

The legislation puts significant new funding toward nuclear security as well, with a $327 million boost from last year for the Energy Department’s nuclear weapons programs.

“With ever-changing global threats, it is vital we keep the country at the very pinnacle of nuclear security preparedness. This bill prioritizes funding to ensure that our stockpile is modern, secure and ready,” Chairman Hal RogersHarold (Hal) Dallas RogersThe Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by PhRMA — Tensions mount for House Republicans Koch-backed group to target some Republicans over spending vote in new ad campaign Sadly, fiscal restraint is no longer a core principle of the GOP MORE (R-Ky.) said in a statement.

“Also critically important is the growth of our economy — which simply cannot occur without functioning and safe water resources and continued strides toward energy independence. This legislation will invest in all of these efforts to promote a more secure and prosperous future for our nation.”

The bill overall is $259 million higher than 2016’s funding and $168 million more than Obama’s request.

It includes a number of Republican-backed provisions that try to help California recover from its historic drought, similar to the legislation Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and others tried to insert into last year’s major spending bill. 

The GOP is using its funding power through the bill to try to make other policy changes as well, most of which Republicans have been trying to pass through appropriations bills for years.

It would prevent the Army Corps from enforcing the controversial new Clean Water Rule it developed alongside the Environmental Protection Agency.

It would also allow possessing firearms on Army Corps-owned land and prohibit the agency from redefining “dredge” or “fill” for the purposes of Clean Water Act pollution rules.

The committee’s energy and water subcommittee will meet Wednesday to vote on the spending bill.