Speaker John Boehner, via flickr
House Republicans, joined by a handful of Democrats, are making good on their campaign promises to attack the EPA and make life easier for heavy polluters but harder for actual life. Last night, the House passed its short-term government funding measure, which funds the government until March 4 and takes a hatchet to funding for environmental protection. Speaker Boehner, seemingly overlooking the irony, said, "Cutting federal spending is critical to reducing economic uncertainty, encouraging private-sector investment, and creating a better environment for job creation in our country." Specifically, the bill takes a huge chunk out of the budget of the EPA, the government body that protects our water, air, and earth. The EPA's funding was cut by $3 billion and the Energy Department, which has been acting as a sort of venture capital firm in the absence of a real national energy plan, saw its budget reduced by $1 billion for the remainder of the year.
Other "highlights" of the legislation:
--Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) attached a rider to the bill preventing federal funds from being spent on a total maximum daily load for chemicals or a watershed implementation plan for the Chesapeake Bay.
--Rep. Tom Rooney (R-Fla.) put in language that stops EPA from spending money to implement, administer or enforce new water quality standards for Florida's lakes and rivers.
--Rep. David McKinley (R-W.Va.) was successful in his effort stop EPA from developing or issuing standards that list coal ash as hazardous waste under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.
This is only a sampling. Many more anti-environmental provisions were passed. The package now goes to the Senate, where many of its worst features may be turned back. To a large extent, protection of the environment now comes down to presidential leadership. Given the past few years, it's anyone's guess if the White House will spend political capital on protecting our environment.