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Appropriations Committee Releases the Fiscal Year 2012 Interior-Environment Appropriations Bill


Washington, Jul 6 -

The House Appropriations Committee today released the fiscal year 2012 Interior and Environment Appropriations bill which will be considered in subcommittee tomorrow. The legislation includes funding for the Department of the Interior, the Environment Protection Agency (EPA), the Forest Service, and various independent and related agencies.

In total, 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%.

In addition, the legislation unveiled today also includes several provisions aimed at reining in out-of-control federal bureaucracies and overly burdensome regulations that harm American businesses and hinder economic recovery.

“Americans are sick to death of excessive government spending and regulation that is pushing us further and further away from economic recovery. This bill pinpoints and cuts extraneous, duplicative and unnecessary spending, prioritizes funding for programs with the most benefit to American families and businesses, and helps put a stop to free-wheeling government over-regulation,” House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers said.

Subcommittee Chairman Mike Simpson added, “At a time when we borrow 40 cents for every dollar we spend, our government can’t afford to continue on its recent spending binge with its head in the sand when it comes to our fiscal challenges. In this bill we face those challenges head on, setting priorities and distinguishing between what is necessary and what would just be nice to do – something American families do every day.  The bill reins in out-of-control regulation and provides the certainty that our economy needs to make a strong recovery.” 

For the subcommittee draft text of the legislation, please visit: http://appropriations.house.gov/UploadedFiles/INTERIOR-FY2012_-_Working_v20_xml.pdf

For a table comparing the FY 2012 Interior Appropriations bill with last year’s levels and the President’s request, please visit: http://appropriations.house.gov/UploadedFiles/7.6.11_FY_12_Interior_Summary_Table.pdf

Bill Highlights:

Department of the Interior (DoI):

The Department of the Interior is funded at $9.9 billion, which is $720 million – or 7% – below last year’s level and $1.2 billion below the President’s request. Within this funding, the Committee directs the use of $189 million in emergency suppression carry-over dollars to fully fund the 10-year fire cost average at $763 million, with an additional $92 million – $31 million above last year – for the FLAME fire suppression fund. Also included in DoI:

·            Bureau of Land Management (BLM) – The bill includes $1 billion for BLM – a decrease of $63 million below last year’s level and a decrease of $60 million below the budget request. This does not include a proposal by the President to increase oil and gas fees by $38 million.

In addition, the bill includes several provisions regarding livestock grazing issues within the BLM, ensuring that farmers and ranchers in the West have the ability to conduct and grow their businesses without unnecessary and intrusive government regulations.

·            U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) – The FWS is funded at $1.2 billion in the bill, a cut of $315 million – or 21% – below last year’s level. Within this funding, important programs such as endangered species recovery are prioritized, while land acquisition and grants make up the bulk of the funding reductions.

·            National Park Service (NPS) – The legislation contains $2.5 billion for the NPS, which is $129  million below last year’s level. Operation of the National Park System is funded at $2.2 billion, which is $7 million below FY11 enacted levels.  This funding will allow all National Parks to remain open and NPS activities to continue through the next year without furloughs or reductions in full time or seasonal employees.

·            U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) – The bill includes $1.1 billion for the USGS, a $30 million cut below last year’s level. The majority of the reductions are in climate change and satellite imaging programs, while energy and minerals, natural hazards, and water programs are prioritized. The bill also does not provide funding for the President’s costly and flawed proposal to transfer the “LandSat” satellite imaging program from NASA to the USGS.

·            Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation, and Enforcement (BOEMRE) – The legislation contains $154 million for BOEMRE, which is $72 million below last year’s level (due to a transfer of royalty fee management to the Office of the Secretary). This funding is adequate to allow the hiring of new safety and environmental inspectors. The bill also does not include the President’s ill-conceived proposal to increase offshore oil and gas fees by $55 million, which could harm American businesses during this economic downturn, and put brakes on future domestic energy sources that could help lessen the nation’s dependence on foreign oil.

·            Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) – BIA is funded at $2.5 billion in the legislation, a reduction of $64 million below last year’s level. This includes funding for federal government contractual obligations to tribes under a recent Supreme Court ruling on tribal self-governance.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) – 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.

The EPA is funded at $7.1 billion in the legislation, which is $1.5 billion – or 18% – below last year’s level, and $1.8 billion – or 20% – below the President’s request. In total, this funding level is below the fiscal year 2006 level by $468 million. The bill also caps EPA’s personnel at the 2010 level (the lowest since 1992), and rescinds certain unobligated grant and contract funding. Some of the other EPA cuts include:

U.S. Forest Service – The bill includes $4.5 billion for the Forest Service, a reduction of $164 million below last year’s level and $412 million below the President’s request. After directing the agency to utilize $200 million in emergency suppression carry-over funds, the bill fully funds Forest Service Wildland Fire Management at $1.8 billion—above the 10-year fire suppression cost-- and includes an additional $290 million for the FLAME fire suppression fund (in addition to the DoI fire management funding).

Indian Health Service – The legislation contains $4.5 billion for the Indian Health Service. This is $392 million over last year and the largest program increase in the bill. American Indians and Alaska Natives suffer from the poorest average health in the country, and access to care is a persistent problem. This funding will help address access to health facilities for many health problems, including those related to domestic violence, dental health, alcohol and substance abuse, cardiovascular health, diabetes, and infant mortality.

Smithsonian Institution -- The Smithsonian Institution is funded at $760 million in the bill – a decrease of $8 million below last year’s level and a decrease of $110 million below the President’s request.

National Gallery of Art -- The National Gallery of Art is funded at $126 million in the legislation – a decrease of $33 million below last year’s level, and a decrease of $12 million below the President’s request.  Funding in FY10 and FY11 was increased substantially to address a public safety issue relating to the Gallery’s East Building façade. 

National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities – The bill includes $135 million for each endowment which is a reduction of $20 million for each endowment from last year’s level. 

Other Provisions – Several additional provisions are contained in the legislation. Some of these provisions include:

The bill also includes the House-passed “Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act of 2011,” which was introduced by Rep. Gibbs and approved by the House in March. The bill clarifies Congressional intent on the dual regulation of pesticides near navigable waterways.