House Republicans this week took a big swing at President Barack Obama's plans to tackle climate change, by releasing an appropriations bill that scales back the Environmental Protection Agency's budget to levels last seen 35 years ago.
Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, introduced the bill Tuesday at the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior and Environment Appropriations. The bill includes $2.9 billion in cuts to the EPA budget, Simpson's office said. That would bring the agency's budget to below 1978 levels, he said.
Simpson said it prevents the EPA from implementing any of Obama's climate change initiatives, outlined last month in a speech at Georgetown University. The president's plan to reduce carbon pollution has at its centerpiece the use of the Environmental Protection Agency's authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions at power plants.
Courts have determined that carbon emissions are a pollutant under the Clean Air Act, and that the EPA has the authority to pursue regulation of them. A number of major environmental groups have given the White House plans that outline what sort of legal authority they think the agency has to act; the EPA is expected to work closely with states to curtail carbon emissions.
"This administration's appetite for new regulations and disregard for the will of Congress have left us with little choice but to block his climate change agenda in this bill," Simpson said.
The bill is expected to be considered by the full House Appropriations Committee next week.
Such harsh cuts are unlikely to ever be enacted, however. They won't pass muster in the Democratic-controlled Senate, and most Americans support the core clean air and water mission of the agency.
Here's what some recent polling by an environmental group found:
Sixty-one percent of Americans back Obama's plan, according to the poll conducted by the Natural Resources Defense Council and released last week. The poll's author's boasted that even 49 percent of Republicans favor the EPA's move to curtail carbon emissions. The support among Democrats is 84 percent and 56 percent among independents, the poll found.
Hart Research, which often works with Democrats, conducted the poll for NRDC jointly with Chesapeake Beach Consulting, a firm that often works with Republicans. The polling team surveyed 808 registered voters nationwide; the poll has a margin of error of 3.5 percent.