Amendments to House Interior-EPA Appropriations (H.R. 5538)

Heritage Action will key vote the following three amendments to H.R. 5538, the Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act:

Key Vote Alert: “NO” on Graham-Jolly Amendment to Restrict Coastal Exploration Research

This week the House will vote on an amendment offered by Rep. Gwen Graham (D-FL) 15%, Rep. David Jolly (R-FL) 39% and Rep. Curt Clawson (R-FL) 84%, to H.R. 5538, the Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill for FY 2017. This amendment would prohibit funds to be used to research, investigate, or study offshore drilling in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico Planning Area of the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS).

The U.S. has become the de facto leader of the world with regard to energy development. A new report from Rystad Energy found “the US now holds more recoverable oil reserves than both Saudi Arabia and Russia.” Even this report likely understates the depth of U.S. assets. Yet most of this increase in energy production has come on private lands, as the federal government has continually made things much more difficult in terms of permitting and other regulatory roadblocks.

Despite this the Gulf of Mexico continues to be a very important asset for our energy future and it continues to produce significant amounts of oil and natural gas. Yet the Eastern Gulf of Mexico has not participated to this point despite its significant potential.

Heritage Foundation energy analyst Nick Loris wrote about the need to open up the rest of the OCS in a report in 2014. He said:

“Excessive regulations and bureaucratic inefficiencies have stymied oil production and prevented the full effects of the energy boom. Opening up the rest of the Outer Continental Shelf to exploration and oil production would allow this to occur.”

This amendment would block any potential progress that could take place by preventing the necessary work that would need to be prepared in the East Gulf for potential lease sales and eventual production. Congress should not put any additional barriers in place and allow the U.S. to continue to reap the immense benefits of our energy dominance.

Heritage Action opposes the Jolly Amendment and will include it as a key vote on our legislative scorecard.

Key Vote Alert: “YES” on Palmer Amendment to Eliminate Diesel Emission Reduction Grants

This week the House will vote on an amendment offered by Rep. Gary Palmer (R-AL) 95%, to H.R. 5538, the Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill for FY 2017. This amendment would eliminate funding for for the Diesel Emission Reduction Grant program, which would save taxpayers $100 million.

This program was originally authorized in the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and then was reauthorized again in 2010, however this latest authorization expires at the end of FY 2016. Despite the fact that the program is unlikely to be reauthorized before the end of the fiscal year, the Appropriations Committee provides $100 million in the base bill regardless, which is $50 million more than the committee provided in the House base bill in the previous fiscal year and $50 million more than provided in the omnibus in December.

Beyond the spending levels, the grants provided by the program have funded a number of wasteful projects as highlighted by The Heritage Foundation Blueprint for Balance, which recommends eliminating this program. According to their report this program spent money on the following wasteful items:

  • New or retrofitted tractors
  • Cherry pickers in Utah ($750,000)
  • Electrified parking spaces at a Delaware truck stop ($1 million)
  • A new engine and generators for a 1950s locomotive in Pennsylvania ($1.2 million)
  • School buses in San Diego County ($1.6 million)
  • New equipment engines for farmers in the San Joaquin Valley ($1.6 million)

Furthermore, the report states:

“Federal taxpayers should not have to pay for projects that should be undertaken by private investors or state and local groups. If these technologies are economically viable and consumer demand exists, these products will be developed without subsidies from the taxpayers.”

It is time for Congress to root out wasteful, unauthorized spending in the Appropriations process. The Palmer amendment is a good place to start.

Heritage Action supports the Palmer Amendment and will include it as a key vote on our legislative scorecard.

Key Vote Alert: “YES” on Smith Amendment to Block Environmental Education (EE) Grant Funding

This week the House will vote on an amendment offered by Rep. Jason Smith (R-MO) 82%, to H.R. 5538, the Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill for FY 2017. The amendment would block funding to the EPA Environmental Education (EE) grant program.

The EPA was granted authority to conduct environmental education programs and issue EE grants by the National Environmental Education Act of 1990. The EPA curriculum perpetuates unfounded fears about environmental catastrophe, and the need to “save” the environment. The truth is the environment is doing quite well, and is better today than it has been in generations. According to the EPA’s own data the six major air pollutants are down 68% since 1970.

There is also a conflict of interest in allowing the agency that regulates and enforces environmental policy to also be the lead agency to “educating” on those same issues. It should come as no surprise then that their educational efforts reinforce regulation as the best method for environmental stewardship, despite the fact that this is not always the case.

In addition, earlier this year, The Heritage Foundation Blueprint for Balance recommended eliminating this grant program because the vast majority of this money has gone to non-profits (some of which engage in political action training) over state and local governments and academics. For example, here is a breakdown of the number of funded grants and total dollar amounts disbursed between 1992-2015 for this grant program:

  • 1,961 Non-profits ($37,529,241)
  • 162 State governments ($4,097,349)
  • 251 Local government ($2,876,849)
  • 634 Colleges/Universities ($16,101,645)

This program essentially is taxpayer funded propaganda arm of the left to advance their pro-regulation, anti-energy, and anti-consumer agenda. If Congress is serious about reining in the administration’s out of control regulatory agenda this program should be stopped.  

Heritage Action supports the Smith Amendment and will include it as a key vote on our legislative scorecard.