GOP looks to cut EPA funding, block Obama environment rules

GOP looks to cut EPA funding, block Obama environment rules
© Getty Images

House Republicans on Tuesday released a $32.1 billion funding bill for the Interior Department and environmental programs that would cut Environmental Protection Agency regulatory funding and block key Obama administration rules. 

The bill, which would cut $64 million in spending from current levels, is $1 billion less than President Obama requested in his budget. 

ADVERTISEMENT

Republicans are looking to cut the EPA’s budget by $164 million, a smaller cut than they’ve pursued in the past. 

But the committee is targeting the agency’s regulatory agenda, saying it’s seeking a 6 percent funding cut. A host of Obama environmental rules, including those setting carbon limits on power plants, regulating methane emissions and defining bodies of water under the agency’s purview would also be blocked. 

The committee last year looked to slice the EPA’s budget by $718 million. A year-end spending deal kept EPA funding flat, at $8.1 billion, and deleted all the policy riders attached to the bill. 

This year's bill includes more than $2.1 billion for a clean water and drinking water state grant program, a fund the Obama administration had looked to cut in its budget request. GOP lawmakers have criticized Obama officials for requesting those cuts in their budget. 

Republicans would keep funding mostly flat for the Office of Surface Mining in the bill, but they aim to block an agency rule designed to protect streams around coal mining operations.

The bill also cuts funding for the Fish and Wildlife Service and directs the U.S. Forest Service to spend up to half its funding on wildfire prevention and suppression. 

The Interior and Environment appropriations subcommittee will mark up the bill on Wednesday. Lawmakers have not passed the appropriations bill through the House for several years. It hit the House floor last year but faltered amid a debate over the display of the Confederate flag at national cemeteries.