Spending bill cuts EPA funding, but most ‘riders’ left out
It also provides Republicans a symbolic win by cutting funds left over
from the expired Energy Department loan guarantee program that backed
the failed solar panel manufacturer Solyndra.
The fate of the bill is uncertain because it’s caught up in the legislative endgame over the payroll tax hike, and includes provisions on abortion, Cuba and other issues that anger Democrats.
Overall, the bill provides $8.4 billion for EPA, which is $233 million below fiscal 2011 levels and $524 million less than what the White House wanted, according to a GOP summary.
Elsewhere, the provisions funding the Interior Department’s offshore energy branches seek to nudge the agency into speeding up drilling permits.
Of $62 million authorized to be collected from offshore inspection fees, the bill requires that 50 percent be used to “expand capacity” and “expedite the orderly development” of offshore areas.
The legislation also blocks the Nuclear Regulatory Commission from terminating a project without the majority support of the five-member body.
Republicans blasted the commission, led by NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko, for moving forward with the closure of the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository even though NRC commissioners split 2-2 on whether to uphold a decision to stop the Energy Department from withdrawing the application for the project.
The bill also prevents NRC from using funds for commission salaries and expenses to reduce or increase funds for a specific program or project.