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article imageOp-Ed: House energy bill shows lawmaker's animosity toward White House

By Karen Graham     Jul 12, 2014 in Politics
The Republican-led House of Representatives passed a bipartisan Fiscal Year 2015 Energy and Water Appropriations bill in a vote of 253-170. On the surface, the bill looks sensible enough, but it effectively damages environmental programs.
After two days of debate, the House on Thursday night passed a $34 billion energy and water appropriations bill that included a number of specific measures that were purposely intended to show the amount of animosity present among lawmakers toward the Obama Administration by undoing many of our energy saving regulations and undermining some of our environmental programs.
H.R. 4923, The fiscal 2015 appropriations bill for DOE, the Army Corps of Engineers and other agencies, gives the Army Corps of Engineers $5.5 billion, a significant budget increase needed because of a backlog of projects due to ever-increasing budget pressures.
Congressman Gene Green (D-Texas), a member of the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee since 1996, has been a strong supporter of increased funding for the Army Corps of Engineers. He had this to say about the increased budget for them: “Over the past few years however, the Army Corps has faced a backlog of projects due to increasing budget pressures. The fact is we can’t afford a backlog, the Port of Houston, one of the biggest ports in the nation, generates enormous revenue through imports and exports, and supports thousands of jobs. The Houston bayou system saves taxpayers millions through flood mitigation and management. Unfortunately, the needs of these areas haven’t been met in a timely fashion. We’re pleased that the House voted to pass a bill that supports funding for these important projects.”
I have no problems with the Corps of Engineers needing a bigger budget, especially if climate variances continue to either drown us or leave us with major rivers like the Mississippi River needing dredging. But the cuts that were made to other agencies is nothing short of uncalled for with regard to our environmental programs.
Discussion, or better to say, heated debate centered on dozens of amendments, some of them politically potent, some nothing more than "pet issues," meant to appease the constituents back home. But a few were outright slaps at the Obama administration's climate change programs, and some of them will really become serious setbacks if the appropriations bill goes any further.
Let's take a quick look at a few of the more questionable parts of the bill.
1. Department of Energy funding for renewable energy programs was slashed by $113 million. In the same stroke of the pen, funding for coal and other fossil fuels was increased. To do this, the lawmakers targeted lower-priority programs for cuts. But it was specifically understood that the government's portfolio needed the investments from fossil fuels.
2. Representative Michael Burgess (R-Texas) inserted his "pet" amendment into the bill, barring the Department of Energy from enforcing energy-efficiency for light bulbs. He must have a burned out bulb himself, because the standards pertaining to light bulbs dates back to the 2007 energy bill that President George W. Bush signed into law.
3. Another Republican, Representative Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) saw to it that his amendment preventing the Department of Energy from using appropriated funds for its climate model development and validation program got added to the bill. In a statement on Friday, Goser said, "It is not about making a statement on climate change or the validity of climate science, but about restoring fiscal responsibility and efficiency to federal spending as well as preventing duplication.”
4. The most outrageous amendment came from Representative David McKinley (R-W.Va.). His amendment forbids any spending that would "design, implement, administer or carry out specified assessments regarding climate change." Oh, I guess if we don't hear about climate change, it doesn't exist, right?
5. The "Cash for Crappers" amendment added by the Honorable Representative Goser that slashes funding that provides federal incentives for swapping low-efficiency toilets for higher-efficiency models. I just hope that where he lives doesn't end up having a water shortage like California any time soon.
The chances of the House bill going any place once it reaches the Senate are less than zero. But then, the Senate has its own appropriations bill in the works, and notice I say, in the works. But even so, when the House and Senate get together, it is doubtful anything will get done until after the November elections.
What is so ridiculous to me is the attempts of the GOP to undo regulations that are a positive forward step in energy conservation and efficiency. The only reason they are doing this is to impress the voters back home, letting them know they still run things on the hill. Republicans are going to the extreme of destroying our energy and environmental programs, and they are doing their best to undermine the current administration. But while doing so, they are hurting the American public.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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