The House Appropriations Committee met on Tuesday, July 12, to mark up the House Subcommittee of the Interior and Environment and Related Agencies funding allocations for fiscal year (FY) 2012. After the measure had moved out of subcommittee, things looked dismal for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of the Interior. Democrats promised to propose amendments, and come Tuesday, they did. However, despite numerous attempts to restore funding to the EPA to regulate emissions of carbon dioxide from industry sources and coal ash from power plants, they faced heavy opposition from Republicans, and many significant amendments failed.
The Endangered Species Act also came under fire, and language in the bill coming from the Committee now prohibits the Fish and Wildlife Service to use any funding to list new species and habitats for protection. Similarly, language in the legislation contains a reversal of the moratorium enacted by the Interior Department on mining on lands near the Grand Canyon. Both of these provisions enraged environmentalists who say the measures will lead to further species and habitat destruction. The Committee’s Ranking Member, Representative James Moran of Virginia (D-8th), said that the bill is “a virtual — shall I say it —dump truck of special-interest legislative riders.”
Additionally, the legislation included a provision that prevented the implementation of a public land use management policy, a provision which the Department of Interior has said it will not enforce. The Department of Interior's United States Geological Survey (USGS) also got hit hard, especially in the area of Climate Variability. Climate Variability received a $9 million decrease in reasearch and development funding, and cuts that signify program elimination for carbon sequestration and scientific support for Department of Interior bureaus.
House Appropriations Committee Chairman, Representative Hal Rogers of Kentucky (R-5th), defended the effort saying “This legislation is a great example of the hard but necessary work the Appropriations Committee is doing to get our fiscal house in order by cutting extraneous, duplicative, and unnecessary spending.”
The FY 2012 Appropriations Interior and Environment and Related Agencies will be discussed on the House Floor sometime in the coming weeks.