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Simpson Cuts EPA Budget, Reins in Regulatory Agenda

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

The House Appropriations Committee marked up the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act for FY2013 this week. Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson, who chairs the Interior and Environment Subcommittee, put forth a bill that responds to our nation's fiscal crisis by cutting $1.2 billion from the current fiscal year's level. The bill included $1.4 billion in cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency.

"The biggest complaint I hear about the federal government is how the EPA is creating economic uncertainty and killing jobs," said Simpson. "The EPA's overly aggressive regulatory agenda and large budgets are signs of an agency that has lost its bearings. Throughout the Obama Administration the EPA has seen the largest funding increases in this bill, so it should come as no surprise that they are experiencing the largest cuts."

The Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act for FY2013 includes a 17% cut from current levels. The bill continues a cap on EPA's personnel at the lowest number since 1992, cuts the office of the EPA Administrator by more than 30%, cuts the EPA Congressional Affairs office by 50%, rescinds certain unobligated grant and contract funding, and makes other cuts and reductions to programs within the agency.

The bill includes a number of provisions intended to address EPA actions that have created uncertainty in our economy and threaten future economic growth, including:

A provision prohibiting the EPA from changing the definition of "navigable
waterways" under the Clean Water Act;
A provision requiring agencies to make information regarding payments for legal fees to litigants who sue the federal government available to the public;
A provision providing exemptions from greenhouse gas reporting for certain agricultural activities;
A provision putting an effective hiring freeze on EPA employees, rejecting the President's
proposal to hire additional regulators;
A provision preventing EPA from expanding federal stormwater discharge program to existing commercial or residential properties without meeting congressional requirements;
A provision maintaining EPA's current regulations exempting forest
practices--including forest roads--from point source permitting requirements under
the Clean Water Act.

During the Committee markup, additional amendments were adopted that would:

Prohibit EPA from regulating the use of the word "green" on lawn product labels;
Prohibit EPA from usurping state authority over financial assurance regulations for hardrock mining.
Prohibit EPA from imposing new standards for greenhouse gas emissions from cars and trucks in model year 2017.
Prohibit EPA from enforcing greenhouse gas New Source Performance Standards which threaten to prevent new coal-fired power plants from being built in the future.
Direct EPA to update its cost manual and solicit comments on updating its regional haze modeling tool. Differences in the modeling and cost estimates between Western States and the EPA continue to be a point of frustration.

"If we really want to do something about the national deficit, we need to get our economy going again. Unfortunately, the EPA is the wet blanket that is preventing small businesses, farmers, and ranchers from investing in their businesses and creating jobs," said Simpson. "The provisions in this bill are about jobs. They are about creating certainty in the marketplace and assuring businesses that it is safe to start hiring people again without the threat of the EPA--under the guise of protecting the environment--imposing millions of dollars of penalties through regulations that are unreasonable or simply defy common sense."

The Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act for FY2013 passed the House Appropriations Committee on Thursday. It may be considered on the floor of the House of Representatives in the coming weeks.

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