June 20, 2012
Before I get into my remarks on this important piece of legislation, I would like to join in commending my friend, Ranking Member Norm Dicks, for his years of valuable contribution to this Subcommittee. Mr. Dicks has been a member of the Interior & Environment Appropriations Subcommittee for almost 36 years, having served as Chairman for three of those. This is a terrific accomplishment and we will be sorry to lose his wealth of institutional knowledge when Mr. Dicks retires at the end of the year. I wish to thank you for your years of service to this Committee, the House of Representatives, and our country.
On to the task at hand, I congratulate Chairman Simpson, Ranking Member Moran, and the entire Subcommittee staff for succeeding in crafting a bill that effectively balances the stewardship of our unique natural heritage with the production of the affordable domestic energy vital to powering our economy - all in the face of a difficult fiscal climate.
The Interior & Environment Appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2013 funds its programs at $28 billion, which is $1.2 billion below the FY12 enacted level. Since Fiscal Year 2010, the accounts overseen by this Subcommittee have been reduced by $4.24 billion, or 13%, a huge achievement. In its efforts to protect scarce taxpayer dollars, the Subcommittee has conducted a whopping 16 budget oversight hearings this year.
Within this year’s bill, the Subcommittee has emphasized key issues of bipartisan concern. Programs dedicated to improving the lives of our nation’s Native American populations by enhancing access to healthcare, education, and economic opportunity, while reducing crime on tribal lands, have all received increases.
Accounts to address the grave threats to our natural habitats, public safety, and economy posed by invasive species and forest fires have also been fully funded. This legislation also seeks to reduce frivolous lawsuits over land management decisions. These lawsuits have become a source of profit for fringe environmental groups at the cost of millions of taxpayer dollars and the efficiency of government operations.
I am particularly proud of efforts by this Subcommittee to increase congressional oversight over this Administration’s activist environmental regulations. These policies fly in the face of public opinion, congressional intent, and economic and scientific common sense. Of particular note, the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget is reduced 17% from last year’s enacted level, which is down $3.2 billion since Fiscal Year 2010. This represents the strong concerns of this Congress over the EPA’s unprecedented effort to drive certain industries to extinction with a cocktail of burdensome regulations, questionable guidance policies, and arbitrary enforcement measures – all designed to shut down the permitting process for energy exploration and production.
In particular, the coal industry has been singled out by the EPA’s mining permit moratorium and the single most expensive rule in the Agency’s history, Utility MACT, destined to kill coal-fired power plants. In the past four years, the Kentucky coal industry has lost 10 percent of its miners, nearly 1,970 jobs, to this onslaught. In the midst of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, these policies only add more hardworking men and women to the ranks of the unemployed while cutting off access to the affordable energy that is the lifeblood of our economic recovery.
The Administration’s war on coal is simply the first battle - the Agency is already shifting its crosshairs towards other domestic fossil fuel industries. This bill wisely staves off the EPA’s announced intentions to regulate greenhouse gases by removing all requested funding for the job-killing New Source Performance Standards.
Once again, I congratulate the Chairman, the Ranking Member, and this Subcommittee on their efforts to protect America’s natural heritage, her native peoples, and our economic engine, all while achieving substantial cost savings for the taxpayer. Though I know we will have vigorous debate on the particulars of this legislation, I urge that we continue to move through this year’s funding measures in regular order by favorably reporting the Interior & Environment Appropriations Bill to the full Committee.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, I yield back.