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The CR is bad for the Earth.

February 16, 2011

I meant to write more about the Republicans’ CR yesterday but got distracted. Of course, it’s no surprise that there’s more for environmentalists to worry about in the CR than just the gutting of the D.C. area transit system.

The base bill that was introduced last week, H.R. 1, is generally terrible on the climate change/clean energy front, as summed up in the New York Times:

Republicans take aim at some of their favorite targets in the measure, reducing financing to the Environmental Protection Agency by $3 billion — an almost 30 percent cut from current levels. The measure would also block the agency from implementing new emissions regulations, and it would cut more than $100 million in spending on climate change programs.

Section 1746 is the key provision that would prohibit the EPA from regulating GHGs under the Clean Air Act, effectively repudiating the Supreme Court’s holding in Massachusetts v. EPA.

The Hill has an Obama Administration-released backgrounder with more climate change (and Clean Water Act) lowlights from the CR, which include blocking implementation of Energy STAR and the Renewable Fuels Program.

In addition, yesterday, the Republicans flocked to offer up a mess of crazy amendments to make the CR even crazier. The E&E headline characterized it as “House GOP exults in cutting, anti-regulatory spree” (sub. req’d). In particular, Rep. Joe Barton of Texas has apparently offered an amendment to permanently block EPA’s authority to regulate GHGs (apparently not yet online).

(However, I am delighted to note that Rep. Fortenberry of Nebraska has offered an amendment, number 483, prohibiting the use of funds in any “sterilization campaigns.” I know what you all are thinking – how does this resolve with Rep. Burton’s amendment, number 485, regarding the BLM’s wild horses and burros program? Don’t worry: Rep. Burton would permit funding of “fertility control” on feral equids. Until they go online on Thomas, you can read some of yesterday’s amendments in the Congressional Record [PDF].)

Of course, it’s important to keep the CR in all its awfulness in perspective. The worst it can do is mess up the way the federal government spends money over the next seven months. And anyways, it won’t get signed into law: the Senate is unlikely to pass it as is, and Obama has vowed to veto the CR in its current form. Here is how the veto threat is worded, in the official OMB statement [PDF]:

If the President is presented with a bill that undermines critical priorities or national security through funding levels or restrictions, contains earmarks, or curtails the drivers of long-term economic growth and job creation while continuing to burden future generations with deficits, the President will veto the bill.

It remains to be seen whether the EPA’s authority to regulate GHGs counts as one of the Administration’s “critical priorities.” I would certainly argue, and I think it is the Obama Administration’s view, that the climate change-related energy innovation provisions the GOP wants to kill constitute drivers of long-term economic growth that are, you know, necessary for WTF.

So what is the relevance of the CR if it’s not going to become law? Well, it demonstrates what the Republicans stand for politically – and it’s not good for the environment.

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