Republicans Propose 34 Percent EPA Funding Cut

Republicans unveiled plans today to cut the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) budget by 34 percent next year. The cut is part of a $24.3 billion Interior and Environment funding proposal that was unveiled in May. Overall, the bill will cut $5.5 billion or, 19 percent, from agencies to which it allocates funds, according to The Hill.

The $24.3 billion is allocated for the panel that funds the EPA, Department Interior, the U.S. Forest Service, and more. The EPA, which has already faced several consecutive years of cuts, will undergo a budget cut that is twice the amount of the 17 percent reduction proposed last year by the GOP, and “reflects a decision to cut domestic programs below sequestration levels in the coming year while adding money for the military.”

The EPA’s budget cut will be greater than that of other departments, like the National Park Service, in order to lessen the blow to those areas and to keep the promise of having national parks fully open next year. However, the National Endowment for the Arts and Humanities will see a 49 percent cut and the Smithsonian and National Gallery of Art will each get a 19 percent cut.

House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY), a member of the Congressional Coal Caucus, reiterated the tired conservative mantra that environmental protection affects the economy when he told The Hill that “by holding back overly zealous and unnecessary environmental regulations, this bill can have a positive effect on our economy and will help encourage job growth.”

The bill’s summary includes “changes to the definition of ‘navigable waters’ under the Clean Water Act,” and would “block upcoming EPA rules that require refiners to sharply cut the sulfur content of gasoline,” among numerous other initiatives.

Representative Mike Simpson (R-ID), head of the Appropriations sub-panel that released the bill, said that the “legislation will be a ‘battleground’ over Obama’s climate regulations, signaling likely amendments, committee report language or related steps to thwart the carbon emissions rules,” referring to Obama’s National Climate Action Plan, released last month, which includes standards on carbon emissions from both new and existing power plants.

“It’s an allocation that would have devastating impacts for our lands, water and wildlife,” Alan Rowsome, director of conservation funding at the Wilderness Society, told E&E News. “At these funding levels, we would see massive and devastating park and wildlife refuge closures, less and less law enforcement officers protecting the public, and almost no resources to fight wildfires across the country.”

Alisha is a writer and researcher for Ring of Fire. 

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