Environment Reporter™ keeps you fully up to date on rapidly changing developments in courts, Congress, federal agencies, state legislatures, industry, and environmental organizations.
Senate Democrats Aug. 1 released a $30.2 billion draft appropriations bill that would increase funding for the Environmental Protection Agency by approximately $105 million, or 1.25 percent, compared to the pre-sequester fiscal year 2013 enacted level.
Overall, the draft bill includes a total of $8.48 billion in funding for EPA. The bill would maintain funding for the clean water and drinking water state revolving funds at fiscal 2013 levels and provide small funding increases for several agency programs, including the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and the hazardous substance superfund program.
The Senate Appropriations Committee Democrats also proposed to provide the Interior Department with $10.75 billion in fiscal 2014, an increase of approximately $299 million compared to the fiscal 2013 enacted level of $10.47 billion, according to an explanatory statement released by the committee. The Interior Department funding includes increases of $19.1 million for the Bureau of Land Management and $29.1 million for the U.S. Geological Survey.
Senate Democrats also proposed to increase funding for offshore safety and environmental enforcement by $24.9 million and to provide the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, which manages leasing of federal offshore energy and minerals resources, with an additional $8.7 million compared to fiscal 2013 levels.
The legislation includes approximately $290 million in funding for EPA's clean air and climate programs, an increase of $7.4 million compared to the fiscal 2013 enacted level, according to committee documents.
The funding levels proposed by the Senate are significantly higher than those included in the House Appropriations Committee's Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies bill, which proposed to cut EPA funding by 34 percent. The House Appropriations Committee began the markup of that bill, which also contains legislative riders that would restrict EPA's ability to implement portions of President Obama's climate change plan, July 31 but postponed completion of the markup until after the August recess (see related story).
A Senate Appropriations Committee spokeswoman told BNA Aug. 1 that no markup has been scheduled for the Senate bill.
Sens. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), chairman and ranking member of the Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies, said in a joint statement Aug. 1 that the draft bill is intended to serve as “a meaningful start as discussions continue to finalize” funding levels for fiscal 2014.
The Senate proposal would maintain funding for many of EPA's state and tribal assistance programs at fiscal 2013 enacted levels, including the clean water and drinking water SRFs.
The clean water SRF would receive $1.45 billion under the Senate bill, while the drinking water SRF would receive approximately $907 million. The SRFs, which provide capital for water infrastructure projects, would be subjected to significant cuts under the House proposal.
The Senate also proposed to increase funding for the categorical grants, which aid states in implementing and enforcing federal water, air, waste, pesticides, and toxic substances regulations, by $12.2 million.
While funding for most of the grants, including Clean Water Act Section 319 grants that aid states and tribes in their nonpoint source pollution management efforts, would remain stable compared to fiscal 2013, the committee proposed small increases for state water pollution grants awarded under Section 106 and beach protection grants.
Steven Brown, executive director of the Environmental Council of the States, told BNA that the Senate's proposal is a “better starting place” for negotiations than the House interior-environment bill.
Brown said the House proposal was “very alarming” to state environmental agencies because it included a “draconian set of cuts” to the categorical grants. He said the House proposal, if enacted, would “start the disassembly” of the relationship between the federal government and the state agencies that implement environmental directives.
The Senate proposal includes “buy American language” that would require all projects that receive funding from the SRFs to use domestically produced iron and steel products.
The provision, which also was included in the House appropriations bill, includes an exemption for projects where the use of domestic materials would increase the overall project cost by more than 25 percent.
Brown said that although he was encouraged by the Senate proposal, he was unsure how the Senate and House will be able to resolve their differing budget allocations.
The House Appropriations Committee's proposed fiscal 2014 funding bills would keep fiscal 2014 discretionary spending under $967 billion, while the Senate Appropriations Committee based its proposed bills on a spending cap of $1.058 trillion.
Collectively, the Senate funding proposals would exceed post-sequester spending limits called for in the Budget Control Act of 2011.
Brown said if the two chambers are able to agree to pass a short-term continuing resolution at fiscal 2013 levels, EPA funding would still be subject to automatic discretionary spending cuts required under the Budget Control Act. Brown acknowledged that although the sequester cuts would hurt state environmental efforts, they would not be as severe as the cuts proposed by the House.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who separately addressed reporters following a Senate vote Aug. 1, both said that negotiations between the parties on how to fund the government past Sept. 30 will take place after Congress returns from its August recess.
The House has passed four of its 12 regular appropriations bills for fiscal 2014, while the Senate has not yet passed any of its funding bills.
The Senate Appropriations Committee's draft fiscal year 2014 Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies appropriations bill is available at http://op.bna.com/env.nsf/r?Open=jsun-9a6r2d.
An explanatory statement released by the committee is available at http://op.bna.com/env.nsf/r?Open=jsun-9a6r36.
All Bloomberg BNA treatises are available on standing order, which ensures you will always receive the most current edition of the book or supplement of the title you have ordered from Bloomberg BNA’s book division. As soon as a new supplement or edition is published (usually annually) for a title you’ve previously purchased and requested to be placed on standing order, we’ll ship it to you to review for 30 days without any obligation. During this period, you can either (a) honor the invoice and receive a 5% discount (in addition to any other discounts you may qualify for) off the then-current price of the update, plus shipping and handling or (b) return the book(s), in which case, your invoice will be cancelled upon receipt of the book(s). Call us for a prepaid UPS label for your return. It’s as simple and easy as that. Most importantly, standing orders mean you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you’re relying on. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.960.1220 or by sending an email to email@example.com.
Put me on standing order at a 5% discount off list price of all future updates, in addition to any other discounts I may quality for. (Returnable within 30 days.)
Notify me when updates are available (No standing order will be created).
This Bloomberg BNA report is available on standing order, which ensures you will all receive the latest edition. This report is updated annually and we will send you the latest edition once it has been published. By signing up for standing order you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you need. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.372.1033, option 5, or by sending us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put me on standing order
Notify me when new releases are available (no standing order will be created)