Most Interior/EPA riders likely to drop from omnibus appropriations bill
Washington (Platts)--1Sep2011/531 pm EDT/2131 GMT
Before leaving for its August recess, the US House of Representatives
spent several days debating a bill to fund the Department of Interior and
Environmental Protection Agency for fiscal 2012, which includes 40 or so
provisions blocking various environmental regulations, but that debate is
unlikely to resume when lawmakers return next week, a top House Republican
Instead, Congress is probably going to start work on a continuing
resolution to ensure the government does not shut down when the fiscal year
ends October 1, before turning to an omnibus appropriations bill to provide
funding across the government, Representative Mike Simpson, who chairs the
House Appropriations Subcommittee for Interior, Environment and Related
Agencies, said in a phone interview.
As they did earlier this year in the drawn-out showdown over fiscal 2011
spending, Republicans likely will drop nearly all of the so-called riders
blocking Interior and EPA rules from the omnibus bill, Simpson said, although
he pointed to a few rules he and his colleagues would continue to push to
block through an appropriations bill.
Article continues below...
Sign up for Inside Energy
Inside Energy brings you reporting on energy policy developments in the US government and how policy decisions and implementation impact the production, delivery, and use of energy resources. Content includes oil, natural gas, electricity, coal, nuclear energy, renewable energy and energy efficiency.
"I think that the greenhouse gas limitation is one of the biggest ones
when you're talking about the EPA," Simpson, an Idaho Republican, said
"And also there are some dealing with the [maximum achievable control
technology rules], the various utility MACT and boiler MACT and all of those
that could have some significant impact on our economy. So we'll be focusing
on some of those, but there are some that are more localized that may not be
able to survive. I just don't know yet."
House leaders have not yet set a schedule for the appropriations bill,
and Simpson said he has not yet discussed the Interior/EPA bill with his
counterparts on the Senate Interior appropriations subcommittee, Jack Reed,
Democrat-Rhode Island, and Lisa Murkowski, Republican-Alaska.
Senate Democrats, who maintain a majority in the upper chamber, and
President Barack Obama blocked House GOP efforts to handcuff EPA and Interior
during the FY11 spending debate that nearly led to a government shutdown.
Obama, House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid
reached an 11th-hour deal on spending levels and a bill that included just
two Interior riders, rather than the dozens that had been included targeting
Whether Republicans succeed in blocking EPA rules -- an outcome several
analysts and lobbyists see as unlikely -- attacks on the agency will remain a
high priority in the House this fall and will serve as campaign trail fodder
for next year's presidential and congressional elections. Majority Leader
Eric Cantor earlier this week sent a memo to his colleagues listing 11 major
regulations to block with stand-alone bills; eight were from EPA.
"I suspect a lot of it will ... be carried over to the campaign trail,
about what the role of government is and the regulations that are being
imposed -- are they excessive, are they beyond the legislative authority,"
Simpson said. "But we'll still fight for them within this [appropriations]
bill and who knows how it'll turn out."
Debate over FY12 spending also is colored by the so-called Super
Committee that was created to find additional spending cuts as part of last
month's deal to raise the debt ceiling. Simpson predicted the committee would
deal more with "big picture kind of stuff," such as spending on entitlement
programs, rather than considering limits on EPA.
The Super Committee is slated to release its recommendations by
mid-November, but Simpson said he would rather not wait until after the
committee completes its work to finish the FY12 appropriations bills.
"I would like to get our appropriations for FY12 done before the Super
Committee reports," he said. "Because otherwise the potential exists that we
could do all this work and get everything done, and then the Super Committee
comes up with something and we have to do it all over again."
--Nick Juliano, firstname.lastname@example.org