Thursday, September 14, 2017

U.S. House Votes to Block Climate Rules, Using Critical Budget Bill

Lawmakers voted to block funding for enforcement of two Obama-era climate change rules, one involving methane from the oil and gas industry.

Oklahoma Republican U.S. Rep. Markwayne Mullin (left) sponsored amendments to block funding for Obama-era rules on methane and the social cost of carbon. (Credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images) Click to Enlarge.
The House of Representatives on Wednesday voted to cut funding from key climate protection rules and rejected an attempt to save regional offices of the Environmental Protection Agency from being closed.

But lawmakers voted against an amendment to cut $1.9 billion from the EPA's budget, which would have dealt a devastating blow to the beleaguered agency.

Offered by Rep. Ralph Norman, a Republican from South Carolina, the amendment's cuts would have come close to the 31 percent reduction sought by President Donald Trump.  The House bill does cut more than $530 million from the agency's $8 billion budget, slashing it to less than the agency was spending in 2006.

The votes came as lawmakers worked their way through a broad spending package for the 2018 fiscal year, which begins in October.  Final passage by the House will likely come Thursday, but any differences with a Senate version will need to be reconciled.

The bill contained hundreds of amendments, many of them "riders" of the kind attached to appropriations bills to score policy points.  Dozens of these proposals have drawn criticism from environmental groups.

Hewing closely to party lines, Republicans backed two amendments sponsored by Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.).  One would prevent funds from being used to enforce an Obama-era rule that limits methane pollution from new oil and gas facilities.  The other effectively prohibits the EPA from factoring in future damages from climate change—a calculation known as the social cost of carbon—in weighing the costs and benefits of its rules.

Read more at U.S. House Votes to Block Climate Rules, Using Critical Budget Bill

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