The House Energy and Water spending bill, which the Appropriations Committee released on April 14, 2015, makes clear the House Republicans' priorities - subsidize dirty energy, starve clean energy and block any protections for water. This bill must never become law in its current form. Here are some of its key provisions.
Attack on Energy
The bill reflects the Republican leadership's goal of shifting funding from smarter, cleaner energy resources to fossil fuel research. The President recommended $2.7 billion for the Department of Energy's (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), a jump of almost $1 billion. Instead, the Republican budget cuts the budget by $279 million below today's level--about a 14 percent decrease. The programs funded by the Office Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy have brought benefits consumers and industry alike.
Cutting Energy Programs that Work
The DOE Appliance Standards and Equipment Program has set dependable minimum level of efficiency that all Americans can count on to reduce energy and lower their utility bills. Efficiency standards completed through 2014 will save 70 quadrillion BTUs (quads) of energy by 2020 equal to about 70% of annual U.S. energy use, as well as reduce carbon pollution by the equivalent of almost 60 million cars or 70 coal fired power plants.
The Weatherization Assistance Program is a proven energy savings program that enables low-income families, seniors and individuals with disabilities to receive long-term efficiency improvements to their homes. More than 7.4 million homes have been weatherized over almost four decades, supporting 10,000 living wage jobs and saving $2.51 in energy savings for every $1 invested.
Energy efficiency is our greatest energy resources and the House bill would drive the U.S. in the exact opposite direction. The House bill is simply an embarrassment. And what do the Republicans do with the money from these cutbacks? Increase spending for research related to coal, natural gas and oil--setting us back decades.
Attack on Fresh Water
Republican leaders have long been fans of pushing massive policy changes through on spending bills through riders - a way to short-circuit debate and force through controversial proposals. An extreme examples is a rider in this bill that would block the Clean Water Rule, a proposal that the administration developed and that has received the support of hundreds of thousands of people. If the Republicans have their way, streams that help supply drinking water systems that serve one in three Americans could be left inadequately protected by the Clean Water Act. The bill would sacrifice our water quality to the demands of developers and oil and gas drillers by stopping the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers from clarifying which waters are protected. The Clean Water Rule is critically needed and yet modest in scope; it would still leave fewer waters safeguarded than was the case under President Ronald Reagan. This provision alone should lead to a Presidential veto.
Attack on our Oceans
Another amendment would block funding for implementation of the National Ocean Policy - a common-sense policy that improves the way we manage our oceans, reducing duplicative efforts and conflicting government actions, and focusing attention solving the most serious issues jeopardizing ocean health. The National Ocean Policy's goal is to improve coordination of the more than 20 different federal entities and 140 laws that currently govern our oceans, coasts and Great Lakes.
A Disappointing Agenda
Allowing more pollution, cutting smarter energy use and renewable energy - this is hardly what the public is calling for. It is, however, what Tea Party ideologues and polluting industries want. This Energy and Water bill shows that Republican leaders continue to push a Big Polluter Agenda while offering no solutions whatsoever to our nation's problems.