House spending panel unveils deep cuts to EPA

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Democrats cried foul.

“Despite the hyperbole of some of my Republican friends, EPA programs and regulations did not cause this recession and tying the hands of this important agency certainly won’t get us out — that idea is as fictional as recent reports of EPA drones,” panel ranking member Rep. Norm Dicks (D-Wash.) said.

The GOP says the bill keeps the number of EPA personnel at 1992 levels and cuts the administrator’s office by 30 percent and the congressional affairs office by 50 percent.

It also contains numerous riders that prevent environmental rules. They include riders to limit the reach of Clean Water Act regulations and block President Obama’s National Ocean Policy.

The bill would also block funding for Interior Department plans to toughen protections for Appalachian streams threatened by mountaintop mining, which has already damaged or buried many waters in the region.

The overall bill has increases for the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Indian Health Service and gives haircuts to a wide range of programs from the National Gallery of Art and National Endowment for the Humanities to the National Park Service, which loses $134 million — or 5 percent.

The Interior, Environment bill will be marked up in subcommittee on Wednesday. Because it, like other House spending bills, deviates from the August debt-ceiling agreement with the White House, President Obama has pledged to veto it.

The standoff means that fiscal 2013 spending bills are not likely to be resolved by the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30. Last year, most of the 12 annual bills were wrapped into a giant omnibus bill that was rammed through Congress in December.