The House passed a sweeping appropriations bill Friday morning that would substantially slash the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) budget and ensure that the Department of the Interior (DOI) expands energy and mineral production on public lands.
In a 213-203 vote Friday, the House approved the Fiscal Year 2024 Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill, a standalone bill to fund the DOI, its subagencies, the EPA and the White House Council on Environmental Quality. The White House threatened this week to veto the legislation — which just one Democrat, Rep. Vicente Gonzalez of Texas, voted for — and said Republicans were “wasting time” with it.
“I am pleased to see the House pass my Interior and Environment Appropriations bill, and I thank my colleagues for their support of this fiscally responsible legislation,” said Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, the chairman of the House Appropriation Committee’s Interior and Environment Subcommittee.
“As Chairman of this subcommittee, I vowed to create a bill that reduces unnecessary federal spending while prioritizing the critical needs and essential functions within these agencies,” he continued. “This bill does just that by reining in the Environmental Protection Agency, fighting the misguided Obama-era Waters of the United States rule, and barring an Endangered Species Act listing of the greater sage grouse.”
Among its central provisions, the bill would cut EPA funding to $6.2 billion and by a staggering 39% compared to FY23 levels, returning the environmental agency to levels not seen since the early 1990s. The White House had requested more than $12 billion for the EPA in FY24.
It would also repeal several EPA actions, including its Waters of the United States rule, which allows the federal government to regulate small bodies of water. The bill further prohibits EPA from imposing mandatory reporting of greenhouse gas emissions from manure-management systems and from implementing permitting requirements for livestock emissions under the Clean Air Act.
“It is significant because EPA grew significantly, and it received tens of billions of dollars in the last few years,” Rep. Ryan Zinke, R-Mont., told Fox News Digital in an interview. “And it’d be nice if they followed the law. But when they decide not to follow the law, then, as a guardian of taxpayer dollars, I think 40% is probably appropriate.”
Zinke, who served as Interior secretary during the Trump administration, also lauded the appropriation bill’s DOI-related provisions.
The bill would provide the DOI and its subagencies with a budget of $14.3 billion, $677 million below FY23 levels and $3.4 billion below President Biden’s request for FY24. The Bureau of Land Management, Fish and Wildlife Service and National Park Service would see the largest funding cuts under the bill.
It would also more stringently require additional oil and gas lease sales, critical mineral production, and limit “abuse of the Endangered Species Act” which Republicans have argued has been weaponized to restrict public land uses like resource extraction opposed by environmentalists.
“The Interior bill does what it should do. It holds the administration accountable,” Zinke continued. “But also, I think for our public lands, it prioritizes management vice letting it burn. For energy needs, it prioritizes American energy so that we can be independent, not rely upon foreign sources.”
“And I think it protects, what I would say is commonsense regulation, clean air and clean water without doing harm. So, I think overall, it’s not a perfect bill, but I think it’s a good bill. And I strongly support it.”
The bill further includes several other provisions reigning in specific actions the DOI has taken during the Biden administration as part of the president’s sweeping climate agenda.
In one example, the bill would, under an amendment introduced by Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., and passed Thursday evening via voice vote, block the Bureau of Land Management from enforcing its draft resource management plan to end new oil leases across 1.6 million acres in Colorado.
In August, the agency proposed the plan to lock up the vast area in western Colorado in response to multiple legal challenges filed by environmental groups. The proposal would restrict the two offices to leasing just 239,000 acres and 143,000 acres, respectively, for fossil fuel production, a total reduction of about 80%.
“It’s a threat to our nation’s energy independence and our national security,” Boebert told Fox News Digital in an interview. “Biden has declared an all-out war on our energy industry here in America and has surrendered our energy independence. Every step that we can take to secure energy development here in America, where we produce arguably the world’s cleanest, most reliable, most affordable energy, is imperative.”
“BLM’s latest land grab goes beyond a necessary environmental consideration and instead seeks to restrict access to promising resources, hurting the potential for economic growth and prosperity, particularly in the West Slope of Colorado.”