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Appropriations Committee Releases the Fiscal Year 2013 Interior-Environment Appropriations Funding Bill


Washington, Jun 19 -

The House Appropriations Committee today released the fiscal year 2013 Interior and Environment Appropriations bill, which will be considered in subcommittee tomorrow. The legislation includes funding for the Department of the Interior, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Forest Service, and various independent and related agencies.

In total, the bill includes $28 billion in funding – a cut of $1.2 billion below last year’s level and $1.7 billion below the President’s budget request. The legislation also includes legislative provisions that will address the overreach of federal agencies, such as the EPA, that mandate overly burdensome regulatory hurdles that hinder job creation and inhibit the ability of American businesses to grow and thrive.

“This bill cuts spending on programs by more than a billion dollars, and prevents the EPA and other federal bureaucracies from stepping out of their lane and stifling our economic recovery. At the same time, it funds programs that are necessary and important to the American people, including the maintenance of national parks, wildfire fighting and prevention efforts, and the stewardship of the nation’s vast natural resources and federal lands,” House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers said.

"The Interior and Environment bill addresses the fundamental challenges facing the agencies within its jurisdiction within a fiscally responsible level of funding," said Interior Subcommittee Chairman Mike Simpson. "The bill reins in funding and out-of-control regulation at the EPA, and reduces overall spending for the third year in a row. We've made some difficult decisions in this bill – decisions that will help reduce our budget deficit while funding many important agencies and programs at sustainable and appropriate levels.

Bill Highlights:

Department of the Interior (DoI) – The Department of the Interior is funded at $10.3 billion, which is $57 million – or less than 1% – over last year’s level and $79 million below the President’s request.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) – The legislation reflects significant efforts to rein in the EPA – an agency that has been rife with governmental overreach, overspending on ineffective and unnecessary programs, and costly and questionable regulations.

The bill funds the EPA at $7 billion, which is $1.4 billion – or 17% – below last year’s level. In total, EPA funding in the bill is below the fiscal year 1998 level.

The bill continues a cap on EPA’s personnel at the lowest number since 1992, cuts the office of the EPA Administrator by more than 30%, cuts the EPA Congressional Affairs office by 50%, rescinds certain unobligated grant and contract funding, and makes other cuts and reductions to programs within the agency.

The legislation also includes provisions to rein in various problematic, costly, and potentially job-killing regulatory actions by the Administration, including provisions related to the “stream buffer rule,” changes to the definition of “navigable waters” under the Clean Air Act, and “silviculture” regulations.

U.S. Forest Service – The bill includes $4.7 billion for the Forest Service, which is $86 million above last year’s level and $169 million below the President’s request. The bill also includes a provision prohibiting the Forest Service or BLM from issuing new closures of public lands to hunting and recreational shooting, except in the case of public safety or extreme weather.

Indian Health Service – The legislation contains $4.5 billion for the Indian Health Service. This is $187 million – or 4% – over last year’s level. American Indian and Alaska Native health statistics are some of the poorest in the country, and access to care is a persistent problem. This funding will help address access to 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 $789 million in the bill – a cut of $21 million below last year’s level.

National Gallery of Art – The National Gallery of Art is funded at $126 million in the legislation – a decrease of $2.6 million below last year’s level.

National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities – The bill includes $132 million for each program, which is a reduction of $14 million per endowment compared to last year.

Climate Change Funding – Bill wide, climate change funding is reduced by $101 million – or 29% – from last year’s level.

Land and Water Conservation Funding – Bill wide, Land and Water Conservation Fund accounts (land acquisition) are funded at $66 million, which is an 80% cut from the FY 2012 enacted level.

Wildfire Fighting and Prevention – In total, the bill funds wildfire fighting and prevention programs at $3.2 billion, which is $6 million above last year’s level. This includes fully funding the 10-year average wildland fire suppression costs for both the DoI and the Forest Service. Total funding for Wildland Fire Management within both DoI and the Forest Service is $2.8 billion, and the total funding for the FLAME program – a reserve fund for fighting large scale fires – is $407 million.

Payments-in-lieu-of taxes (PILT) – The bill includes a one-year authorization extension for the mandatory PILT program. This program provides funds for rural local governments to help offset losses in property taxes due to nontaxable federal lands within their areas. The authorization for PILT is set to expire on September 30, 2012. Without Congressional action, many rural communities will be left with huge budget shortfalls that could impact public safety, education, and other local government responsibilities.

National Ocean Policy – The bill includes a provision prohibiting funds regarding the President’s National Ocean Policy, and requires a report on previous funding for the policy. This Presidential mandate greatly expands government regulatory control over U.S. oceans, potentially killing jobs and damaging the economies of coastal communities.

For the subcommittee draft text of the legislation, please visit: http://appropriations.house.gov/uploadedfiles/bills-112hr-sc-ap-fy13-interior.pdf

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