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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 How the US can accelerate progress on gender equity Former Md. senator Paul Sarbanes dies at 87 MORE (D-Md.), the ranking member on the panel, signaled Democrats would oppose the bill because of its low funding allocation.

Sen. Tom UdallTom UdallStudy: Chemical used in paint thinners caused more deaths than EPA identified Oregon senator takes center stage in Democratic filibuster debate Bipartisan bill seeks to raise fees for public lands drilling 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) MoranCongress can help Americans living with disabilities by passing the ABLE Age Adjustment Act Senate aims to pass anti-Asian hate crimes bill this week Trump looms over Senate's anti-Asian hate crimes battle 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 MurkowskiTrump: GOP candidates need to embrace 'make America great' agenda if they want to win Republicans who backed Trump impeachment see fundraising boost Moderates' 0B infrastructure bill is a tough sell with Democrats 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.