Chairman Simpson Opening Statement on FY 2013 Interior and Environment Appropriations Bill for Full Committee Markup

Jun 27, 2012

Welcome to the full Committee markup of the fiscal year 2013 Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Appropriations bill. I want to personally thank Mr. Moran and each of the Members of the subcommittee for their active participation and the bipartisan spirit that continues to be a hallmark of our subcommittee’s work.

Before I get into the details of the bill, I’d like to take a moment to recognize a couple of people. For Mr. Dicks, today’s full Committee markup is his last markup of a bill that he loves so much. He has served on this Subcommittee for nearly 36 years and served as its Chairman for three years. Norm—and I say this sincerely—this subcommittee just won’t be the same without you and we will miss you.

Two other Members of the subcommittee—Mr. Hinchey and Mr. Lewis—are joining Mr. Dicks in pursuit of a life beyond Congress. Both have made valuable contributions to this Committee, the Congress, and our country. We wish them both well.

Now, onto the bill. The fiscal year 2013 Interior and Environment bill is funded at $28 billion which is $1.2 billion, or four percent, below the FY12 enacted level and $1.7 billion, or six percent, below the budget request.

While the bill makes significant spending reductions across many agencies and programs, it also prioritizes funding to address the needs of several key accounts supported by a bipartisan cross-section of Members.

For instance, fire suppression at the Department of the Interior and the Forest Service is fully funded at the 10-year average.

The operations of our national parks are sustained at levels only slightly below last year which means every park unit in the country will be operational and staffed at sufficient levels.

Finally, this bill also makes critical investments in Indian Country—an area of particular interest to the bipartisan Members of the Committee.

Again this year, there is a great deal of concern over the sheer volume of regulatory actions being pursued by agencies in the absence of legislation and without clear congressional direction. This is particularly true with the EPA. Wherever I go, the biggest complaint I hear about the Federal government is how the EPA is creating economic uncertainty and killing jobs.  We included a limited number of provisions in the base bill to address some of these issues. We will see additional efforts to rein in the EPA today.

I know there will be criticism over spending reductions to the EPA accounts. Overall, funding for the EPA is reduced by $1.4 billion, or 17 percent, from fiscal year 2012 enacted levels. It’s worth pointing out that the Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Funds are funded at the same level we proposed in last year’s bill—just over $1.5 billion. 

This is the beginning of a long process. I do believe that by the end of this process we’ll all come together, as we always do, to find common ground.

Before I close, I would like to thank the staff on both sides of the aisle for their work. They have