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July 8, 2015

This week, the House will consider the FY 2016 Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill (H.R. 2822). After a number of years without passing an Interior Appropriations bill, the House is primed to vote on a piece of legislation that makes sense for American taxpayers. There are several positive provisions in the bill.

Overall funding in the bill is $30.17 billion, a decrease of $246 million below the fiscal year 2015 enacted level and a reduction of $3 billion below the President’s request.

Funding for the EPA is set at $7.4 billion, a reduction of $718 million – or 9 percent – below the fiscal year 2015 enacted level. In addition, staffing levels are held to 15,000, the lowest level since 1989, according to the committee. This cut is a step in the right direction toward reeling in EPA’s largesse.

Further, provisions are included to halt EPA’s massive and costly overreach, specifically regarding the co-called “Clean Power Plan” and the “Waters of the U.S.” rule. The bill “prohibits the EPA from implementing new greenhouse gas regulations for new and existing power plants,” and “prohibits the EPA from making changes to the definition of ‘navigable waters’ under the Clean Water Act.” These provisions are crucial in stopping the EPA from its unbridled regulatory overreach.

Two amendments adopted in committee provide additional means to reel in the EPA. The Jenkins Amendment prohibits funds from being used to further tighten the ozone standard, which has been dubbed “the single costliest regulation in U.S. history.” The Cole Amendment prohibits funds from being used to implement the BLM’s duplicative and expensive Hydraulic Fracturing on Federal and Indian Lands rule. Even the EPA now admits that hydraulic fracturing is safe, and the Cole Amendment helps to protect the ever-growing American energy boom.

Finally, the bill “continues a one-year delay on any further Endangered Species Act rulemaking for the sage-grouse.” According to the director of the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, listing the sage grouse under the Endangered Species Act “would be the worst thing for it” because the ESA would interfere with recovery efforts already ongoing.

Overall, the FY 2016 Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill is an important piece of legislation. We urge all Representatives to support this legislation. YES is the pro-energy, pro-environment, pro-taxpayer, pro-consumer vote.