Appropriators move bill sending strong ‘message’ to EPA

The Interior-Environment bill includes $27.5 billion in total spending. That’s $2.1 billion below last year’s levels and $3.8 billion below Obama’s fiscal 2012 request for the agencies, which in addition to EPA include the Interior Department, the U.S. Forest Service and others.

It provides $7.1 billion for the EPA, well below the agency’s current-year funding of $8.7 billion and $1.8 billion less than the White House is seeking for fiscal 2012.

Simpson said that he is not “necessarily” a climate change denier, but that the Government Accountability Office has found disarray in climate change programs that justifies a 22 percent, $83 million cut to them.

One policy rider would prevent the EPA from regulating greenhouse gas emissions from power plants and refineries for one year.

The bill would speed up air pollution permits for Shell Oil and other companies seeking to drill in Arctic waters off Alaska’s coast. The bill sets new deadlines for EPA action on offshore air permit applications, prevents challenges to EPA’s Environmental Appeals Board and eases air pollution standards for offshore projects.

Another provision targeting EPA would prevent the agency from regulating a coal combustion byproduct called coal ash as a hazardous waste under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. The provision reflects the goals of a bipartisan group of coal-state lawmakers who want to prevent EPA from issuing tough rules regulating disposal of coal ash.

Another policy rider prevents federal regulators from moving forward with regulations intended to protect streams from mountaintop-removal coal mining.