Wednesday, July 6, 2011
House Appropriations Committee Releases 2012 Interior-Environment spending bill - Funds EPA Mississippi River Basin Initiative While Cutting EPA 18% and Interior 7%
The House Appropriations Committee this morning (July 6) released its Fiscal Year 2012 Interior-Environment spending bill, which will be formally considered and marked-up in a meeting of the House Appropriations Committee's Interior and Environment Subcommittee on Thursday, July 7, at 9 AM (room B308 of the Rayburn House Office Building). When compared to the current fiscal year's (2011) spending levels, the Interior and Environment Appropriations bill would cut EPA's funding by 18 percent and the Department of Interior's spending by 7 percent for the Fiscal Year starting October 1.
The spending bill would make particularly deep cuts to the Interior Department's land and water conservation fund (reduced to one-fifth its current size) and EPA's municipal water and wastewater infrastructure project funding (know as Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Loan Funds), which were cut by $967 million compared to Fiscal Year 2011 spending levels (and more than $1 billion below what the President had requested in his 2012 budget proposal).
According to an Appropriations Committee press release, "the bill includes $27.5 billion in spending – a reduction of $2.1 billion below last year’s level and $3.8 billion below the President’s budget request. Overall, this funding level is $106 million below fiscal year 2009 spending levels. The legislation also includes a total cut to climate change programs of $83 million – or 22% – from last year, and decreases land acquisition funding by $239 million – or 79%." The release goes on to justify the cuts to EPA spending by noting that "the EPA has been funded at unparalleled high levels over the past several years, leading to wasteful and unnecessary spending within the agency, as well as contributing to the agency’s regulatory over-reach, which has a detrimental effect on American businesses and the recovering economy."
EPA's proposed "Mississippi River Basin Initiative" would be funded at $6 million under the bill, the same level as in Fiscal Year 2011 and at the level requested by the President for 2012. The President’s 2012 Budget Proposal described the Mississippi River Basin Initiative as a program “to address upstream pollution sources in the Mississippi River Basin." The EPA detailed budget estimate from February of this year goes on to describe the initiative this way: "The Mississippi River Basin Program is funded at $6.0 million and will focus on nonpoint source program enhancements to spur water-quality improvement. Through a competitive grant process with States, the Mississippi River Basin program will address excessive nutrient loadings that contribute to water quality impairments in the basin and, ultimately, to hypoxic conditions (dead zones) in the Gulf of Mexico. Working with the Gulf Hypoxia Task Force, EPA will help target efforts within critical watersheds to implement effective strategies that can yield significant progress in addressing nonpoint source nutrient pollution. A key emphasis will be coordinating with USDA and USGS to promote sustainable agricultural practices, to reduce nutrient loadings in the Mississippi River Basin and to implement monitoring programs to measure nutrient reductions. As a complement to the Agency’s actions in the immediate Gulf coast, EPA’s Mississippi River Basin program will address excessive nutrient loadings that contribute to water quality impairments in the basin and, ultimately, to hypoxic conditions in the Gulf of Mexico. Working with the Gulf Hypoxia Task Force, Gulf of Mexico Alliance and other states within the Mississippi/Atchafalaya River Basins, and other federal agencies, EPA will help target efforts within 2-3 critical watersheds to implement effective strategies that can yield significant progress in addressing nonpoint source nutrient pollution."