House Votes on EPA Appropriations Bill

July 14, 2016 – By a vote of 231-196, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to adopt H.R. 5538 – the “Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2017,” which includes funding for EPA for FY 2017.  This is the first time since 2009 that the House has passed a stand-alone bill that includes EPA’s budget.  However, The Senate has not yet considered its version of the appropriations legislation and will not do so before the Congressional recess that will extend past Labor Day.  This opens up the likelihood that a Continuing Resolution will be needed to keep the federal government in operation after September 30, 2016.  Additionally, on July 11, 2016, the White House issued a Statement of Administration Policy expressing the President’s opposition to the bill and indicating that he would veto it if it is adopted with the provisions to which he objects (see related article).  The House bill calls for $7.9 billion in FY 2017 for EPA’s budget (the Administration’s request was $8.27 billion) and provides $228.2 million for state and local air grants under Sections 103 and 105 of the Clean Air Act, which is equal to the FY 2016 appropriation and $40 million less than the President’s request. The House bill contains air-related provisions, including, among others: (1) $100 million for grants under the Diesel Emission Reduction Act (DERA) program; 2) $40 million for the Targeted Airshed Grant program; 3) retention of funding for fine particulate matter monitoring under Section 103 authority, rather than transitioning to Section 105 authority as EPA proposed; 4) prohibition on funds being used for Section 111(b) rules related to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from new units; 5) prohibition on funds being used for Sections 111(b) or 111(d) rules related to GHG emissions from modified, reconstructed or existing units; 6) postponement of the implementation of the 2015 ozone NAAQS by up to eight years; and 7) prohibition on EPA developing rules or guidelines to address methane emissions in the oil and natural gas sector.  During the debate on the floor, the House considered over 130 amendments covering a range of topics.  Several noteworthy ones included: a set of amendments proposed by Democrats to eliminate provisions in the bill that prohibit EPA activities related to greenhouse gas emissions from power plants, EPA’s program to reduce ozone-depleting substances and EPA’s use of the Social cost of Carbon estimates (rejected); a provision prohibiting EPA from using Section 115’s international provisions to regulate GHGs (adopted); a provision preventing EPA from issuing the final Clean Energy Incentive Program that provides credit to states for early action under the Clean Power Plan (adopted); a prohibition on EPA taking action under the Clean Air Act without analyzing economic effects (adopted); a provision to prevent EPA rulemaking on accidental release prevention requirements under the Risk Management Program (adopted); the elimination of over $88 million from EPA’s Air, Climate and Research Program (rejected); an amendment to remove provisions in the bill that opposed the President’s Executive Orders on climate change and sustainability (rejected); and a provision to eliminate funding for Diesel Emission Reduction Grants (rejected).