By Robin Bravender & Patrick Reis & Dan Berman of Politico
House Republicans threw down the gauntlet at the Obama administration’s energy and environmental agenda Friday night, proposing to defund the White House energy adviser’s office and block EPA from regulating greenhouse gas emissions.
In addition to slashing the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget by $3 billion – nearly twice as much as they originally proposed – GOP lawmakers included language in the continuing resolution to strip the agency of its ability to implement climate change rules.
And despite the fact that Obama’s energy and climate adviser Carol Browner is leaving the administration, the bill would defund the post of “Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change, or any substantially similar position.”
The White House has not said if it will replace Browner or dissolve the office, which was created for her in 2009.
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.
“Including this provision in the CR will give their committee time to craft thoughtful, effective legislation to clarify EPA’s authority under the Clean Air Act to provide certainty for job creators,” Simpson said.
The Energy and Commerce Committee bill is expected to come up for a vote early this spring.
It’s likely that the EPA language can clear the GOP-led House, although Democrats may offer an amendment during the floor vote to counter the efforts. It’s less clear how the language would fare in Senate, where several moderate Democrats up for re-election in 2012 are seen as swing votes on the issue.
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 Interior Department also took a massive hit – the Republican draft would cut the agency budget by $1.4 billion.
Specifically, the CR goes after the department’s “wildlands” policy, the Obama administration’s signature initiative for public lands.
Under the policy, which Interior Secretary Ken Salazar implemented in December, Interior would have the ability to impose additional conservation restrictions on public lands without authorizing legislation from Congress.
The wildlands plan has been the target of GOP ire since the day it was introduced, with Western Republicans accusing the secretary of usurping congressional authority to lock up public lands.
Energy and water programs would see a $3.6 billion cut from last year’s levels. The $29.9 billion account includes a nearly $312 million increase from 2010 levels to maintain the readiness of the nation’s nuclear stockpile.
The CR would also force the Nuclear Regulatory Commission from terminating the license review process for the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste facility in Nevada.
Image: Courtesy of AP