House panel approves 6.5 percent EPA cut


The House Appropriations Committee has approved an FY18 spending bill that would cut EPA’s funding by 6.5 percent next year. The cut is far short of the 31 percent cut sought by President Donald Trump but still severe enough to reduce overall agency funding to a level not seen since 2008.

Overall the FY18 Interior and Environment appropriations bill – which in addition to EPA funds the Interior Department, United States Geological Survey (USGS) and National Park Service, among other programs – would be funded at $31.4 billion, $824 million below the FY17 funding level but $4.3 billion above what the President requested.  EPA would receive $7.5 billion, equal to the funding it received in 2008 but significantly above the $5.7 billion the Administration sought for EPA in its FY18 budget request.

Despite broad support on Capitol Hill for water infrastructure investment, the bill would slash funding for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) by 18 percent to $1.144 billion.  However, current funding levels for the Drinking Water SRF and the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) program, $863 million and $30 million, respectively, would be maintained.

The committee report accompanying the bill encouraged states to “aggressively allocate existing funds” in their SRF programs to address national water infrastructure needs while noting that “more than $6 billion is currently revolving in the system.”

Other parts of the bill, as approved by the committee, would extend the existing Buy American rules that apply to DWSRF-funded projects through the FY18 fiscal year and would allow EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers to withdraw the controversial Clean Water Rule without adhering to normal public notice and comment periods.

The spending bill will now go to the House floor, though it is unlikely to receive a vote before the House breaks for its August recess at the end of this week.

Some information contained in this news appeared in the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies’ (AMWA) Monday Morning Briefing.


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