Senate panel advances $30B bill that targets EPA rules

Senate panel advances $30B bill that targets EPA rules
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The Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday advanced a $30.01 billion spending bill that takes aim at President Obama’s environmental regulations.

The bill would fund the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Interior Department for fiscal 2016, which begins Oct. 1, by $400 million below the level Congress enacted for 2015 and $2.2 billion less than Obama’s request.

Lawmakers voted 16-14 to advance the bill to the Senate floor. Sen. Barbara MikulskiBarbara Ann MikulskiBottom Line Listen, learn and lead: Congressional newcomers should leave the extremist tactics at home The Hill's Morning Report — Pelosi to reclaim Speakership amid shutdown MORE (D-Md.), the ranking member on the panel, signaled Democrats would oppose the bill because of its low funding allocation.

Sen. Tom UdallThomas (Tom) Stewart UdallHillicon Valley: House panel takes on election security | DOJ watchdog eyes employee texts | Senate Dems urge regulators to block T-Mobile, Sprint deal | 'Romance scams' cost victims 3M in 2018 Dems urge regulators to reject T-Mobile, Sprint merger Dems wary of killing off filibuster MORE (D-N.M.), the top Democrat on the subcommittee that oversees the bill, offered three separate amendments that would boost funding to various programs, strip all policy riders and specifically remove a policy rider regarding climate change.

All three were narrowly rejected by the GOP-led panel.

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The bill, Udall said, would take aim at the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act by permanently weakening them.

Republicans included provisions in the bill that would overturn a new EPA rule that asserts power over the nation’s waterways and would prevent the agency from writing a new rule on ground-level ozone pollution.

Under the measure, the EPA would also be banned from enforcing carbon limits for power plants in states that oppose that regulation, among others.

“These riders are terrible policy. They’re nothing more than a special interest giveaway to polluters. And they also have a proven track record of derailing the appropriations process,” Udall said.

The panel also adopted an amendment that would prohibit funds from being used to list the lesser prairie chicken as endangered under the Endangered Species Act.

Sen. Jerry MoranGerald (Jerry) MoranSenators optimistic about reaching funding deal GOP senators read Pence riot act before shutdown votes On The Money: Shutdown Day 26 | Pelosi calls on Trump to delay State of the Union | Cites 'security concerns' | DHS chief says they can handle security | Waters lays out agenda | Senate rejects effort to block Trump on Russia sanctions MORE (R-Kan.), who offered the proposal, argued that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service acted prematurely last year by listing the species as endangered, and said his proposal would force the agency to allow conservation plans and “God’s work in providing rain” for the animal’s habitat to play out.

Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiThe Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Kidney Care Partners — Trump escalates border fight with emergency declaration On The Money: Trump declares emergency at border | Braces for legal fight | Move divides GOP | Trump signs border deal to avoid shutdown | Winners, losers from spending fight | US, China trade talks to resume next week The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by the American Academy of HIV Medicine — Trump, Congress prepare for new border wall fight MORE (R-Alaska), the chairwoman of the subcommittee that oversees the bill, said while the bill “pulls back on EPA’s regulatory overreach,” it funds critical programs.

The bill, for example, prioritizes funding for the National Park Service to perform maintenance in national parks, for the Bureau of Land Management’s conservation efforts such as those for protection the sage grouse, for the Forest Service and for the Bureau of Indian Affairs, among others.