The Week Ahead: House Committee May Consider Drastic Cuts to EPA Budget


A 34 percent reduction in the Environmental Protection Agency's budget in a spending bill that is viewed by Republican sponsors as intended to "serve as a check" on the agency's ability to regulate industry may be considered by the House Appropriations Committee the week of July 29.

As detailed in a July 23 Energy and Climate Reportarticle, while Republicans claim that such spending cuts are necessary to address the federal government's nearly $17 trillion debt, Democrats call the cuts an "industry wish list" in that riders would prevent EPA from moving forward with Clean Air Act regulations to control carbon dioxide emissions from existing and new power plants, along with many other environmental initiatives.

Senate May Consider Energy Efficiency Bill

The Senate in the week ahead may consider the most comprehensive energy bill to be potentially enacted since 2007. The bill, called the Energy Savings and Industrial Competiveness Act of 2013 (S. 761), includes provisions to expand energy efficiency financing programs and increase energy conservation in the federal government, among other provisions. The bill would also prohibit EPA from regulating carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. 

In addition, as detailed in a July 23 article, the floor action on the bill may include a vote on an amendment regarding the Keystone XL pipeline. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said he may allow a vote on S. 761 that would include an amendment that would require the Obama administration to approve the pipeline that would carry heavy crude oil from the oil sands region in Alberta, Canada to Gulf Coast refineries in the U.S.

Reid has said that the vote on the Keystone pipeline is inevitable and that the efficiency bill may serve as a legislative vehicle for a vote on the controversial project. 

Senate Finance Committee to Hold Hearing

On July 31, the Senate Finance Committee will hold a hearing on "Powering Our Future: Principles for Energy and Tax Reform."  Witnesses include Phylliss Cuttiono, director of Clean Energy for the Pew Charitable Trust; Dan Reicher, executive director for the Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy at Stanford University; Will Coleman, partner of OnRamp Capital; and Margo Thorning, senior vice president and chief economist for the American Council for Capital Formation.

Nuclear Waste Topic of Hearing

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing to consider the Nuclear Waste Administration Act of 2013. As covered in a July 11 article, Yucca Mountain, Nev., continues to be a controversial site for nuclear waste disposal, opposed by the Obama administration.

Other Energy, Climate Events

On July 30, the Natural Resources Defense Council, Green For All, and the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, in cooperation with Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), will hold a briefing in Washington, D.C., on "Less Carbon, More Jobs, How Tackling Climate Change Can Create Jobs and Expand Economic Opportunity."

"Biomass 2013: How the Advanced Bioindustry is Reshaping American Energy" will be held July 31-Aug. 1 in Washington, D.C. The event is being sponsored by the Energy Department's Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Program and the group, Advanced Biofuels USA.