House Approves Interior, Environment Funding Legislation

The House Appropriations Committee recently approved the FY 2013 Interior and Environment Appropriations bill, which includes funding for the Department of the Interior, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Forest Service and various independent and related agencies. In total, the bill cuts off $1.2 billion below last year?s level, with $870 million (or 73 percent) coming in the form of cuts to the State Revolving Funds (SRF) for clean water and drinking water infrastructure.?

The Committee approved only $689 million in its FY 2013 budget for the Clean Water SRF (a 53 percent cut over FY 2012) and $829 million for the Drinking Water SRF (a cut of nearly 10 percent as compared to FY 2012).

These numbers remain unchanged from the subcommittee?s version of the legislation also approved recently. In the time leading up to the full committee?s markup, several leaders in the design and construction industry called for the restoration of funding to the SRFs at least to last year?s levels. They highlighted the need for restored funding levels due to reduced federal spending over the past decade and increased federal mandates to meet treatment requirements.

In addition to reductions in the SRF accounts, the committee approved an amendment that would apply ?Buy American? domestic sourcing requirements for iron and steel to the Clean Water SRF and Drinking Water SRF. Many industry partners in design, construction, trade, equipment manufacturing and distribution, and business called for its defeat.

However, the legislation also includes a provision that would ban funding for EPA for the purposes of implementing their guidance on Clean Water Act jurisdictional determination. The provision joins a similar one offered on the Energy and Water Appropriations legislation.

It remains to be seen how these cuts and policy provisions will fare if and when this legislation is considered by the full House. It should be noted that similar levels of funding were proposed in last year?s Interior/Environment funding legislation, which also made it this far. However, those cuts were drastically reduced in the final compromise omnibus legislation.

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