House Republican appropriators are seeking to use the Continuing Resolution on the Fiscal Year 2011 budget to block EPA from regulating greenhouse gas emissions, and to de-fund the White House energy and climate office. That’s in addition to proposing a massive $100 billion cut in President Obama’s discretionary budget request for Fiscal Year 2011.
See February 14 post: Will Obama stand up under pressure on EPA regulation of greenhouse gases?
21-page list of proposed cuts from FY 2010 funding levels and FY 2011 request, from the House Appropriations Committeee Republican website
With Congress’s inability to pass actual appropriations bills in a timely fashion, and with government funding set to run out on March 4, House Republicans are using the need for a Continuing Resolution to push for radical cuts in the discretionary budget below the 2010 appropriated levels and the President’s 2011 request. The CR introduced on February 11 by Republicans on the House Appropriations Committee contains more than $100 billion in cuts compared to the President’s request. It would drastically cut funding for many government agencies and programs, including NASA, NOAA, EPA, and the Department of Energy (including DOE’s budgets for scientific research and renewable energy and energy efficiency R&D), and the Department of the Interior.
The CR includes language that would prohibit EPA from implementing its science-based regulation of greenhouse gas emissions, as required under the Clean Air Act.
The CR also would zero the funding for the White House position of “Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change, or any substantially similar position.” This is the position that has been held by former EPA administrator Carol Browner. Browner will soon be departing from the administration. The White House hasn’t announced whether it intends to fill her position.
Politico reports (“CR would slash EPA, White House energy office”):
Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho), chairman of the Interior-EPA spending panel, told reporters Friday his goal is to block EPA’s ability to implement greenhouse gas regulations until Sept. 30 – the duration of the continuing resolution. That, he said, would give the House Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton time to pass a longer-term bill. …
The Energy and Commerce Committee bill is expected to come up for a vote early this spring. …
White House officials have pledged to veto a measure targeting EPA climate rules. “What has been said from the White House is that the president’s advisers would advise him to veto any legislation that passed that would take away EPA’s greenhouse gas authority,” EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said last week.
Meanwhile, the EPA's bank accounts would take a big hit under the CR. The bill proposes $3 billion in cuts, including a $107 million hit for climate change programs – 29 percent less than the 2010 enacted level.
The proposal is unlikely to pass in its current form, especially given Democratic control of the Senate and Obama’s authority to veto a CR. It may be successfully rammed through the House. The Senate can pass its own version of a CR, which would have to be conferenced with the House. A number of corporate-oriented Democratic Senators, and Senators who face difficult re-election campaigns in 2012, could go either way on agreeing to block EPA regulations and voting for radical budget cuts.
It remains to be seen whether Congress will decide to trash budgets and programs at EPA and other agencies that are key to climate research, clean energy development, and environmental resource management. And it remains to be seen whether Obama will stand up for EPA’s regulatory authority and take a hard line on protecting climate-related funding.
This action should be seen as Republicans throwing down the gauntlet in a preview of what will no doubt be a big, ugly political fight going forward, with many steps still ahead.