By Robert Romano
This week, the House of Representatives is taking up the appropriations bill for the Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies. This is an opportunity for Congress to exercise its constitutional power of the purse through policy riders that can help limit the size and scope of government.
To that end, Americans for Limited Government suggests the following areas where House members might look to offer amendments to curb what has been a department run amok.
1. Defunding EPA Carbon Endangerment Finding. In 2009, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued the carbon endangerment finding that held carbon dioxide to be a harmful pollutant under the terms of the Clean Air Act. It has been used to justify punitive regulations, particularly against producers of coal electricity, to reduce carbon emissions — all without any vote in Congress. It should be defunded, along with any rule that restricts or limits the emissions of carbon dioxide of any motor vehicle, combined heat and power plants or plants for the generation of power or for the production of heat, including the new and existing power plant rules.
2. Defunding UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Since 1988, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has been responsible for promoting the man-made global warming hypothesis that the EPA now bases its punitive carbon restriction regulations on. Congress could send a strong message by taking away funds to participate in the forum any longer.
3. Defunding Northern Spotted Owl protection under Endangered Species Act. In 1990, the northern spotted owl was listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. That designation has since obliterated the logging industry in California, Oregon and Washington, and now the radical environmentalists want to expand the territory protecting the owl. We propose the opposite. Congress could deny funds to protect any land the owl resides on so loggers can get back to logging.
4. Defunding ethanol mandate. Congress adopted the Renewable Fuel Standard in 2005 and expanded it in 2007, with the EPA now requiring so-called renewable fuel including corn-based ethanol to be blended into transportation fuel. It is simply a corporate handout to ethanol producers that presumes ethanol would not otherwise be sold without a government mandate. Congress could deny funds to make any rule that ethanol be included in the blending of gasoline for commercial sale.
5. Defunding removal of lands for energy production purposes without reporting and energy production offsets elsewhere. Instead sitting aside waiting for the EPA to take energy off the table and out of markets, Congress can be proactive and require that no land be removed for energy production until a public report on the amount of energy potential of those lands is issued by the Energy Information Agency, and other public lands containing an equivalent or higher amount of energy potential are made available for energy production.
6. Defunding any litigation pursued under new and existing power plants rule. The heart of the EPA’s strategy for ensuring compliance with its carbon emissions restrictions is via litigation against energy producers. Congress could strike a blow by defunding carrying forth any litigation under Standards of Performance for Greenhouse Gas Emissions From New Stationary Sources: Electric Utility Generating Units and under Carbon Pollution Emission Guidelines for Existing Stationary Sources: Electric Utility Generating Units under the Clean Air Act or any substantively similar rule that limits emissions of carbon dioxide from existing fossil fuel-fired electric generating units, including, primarily, coal- and natural gas-fired units.
7. Defunding the Green Climate Fund. Since 2010, the UN Green Climate Fund has been redistributing funds to developing countries, supposedly to combat man-made global warming. Congress could deny funds for this purpose.
8. Defunding the EPA Social Cost of Carbon assessment tool. Congress could deny any funds from being used to utilize the Social Cost of Carbon or any other tool to estimate of the economic damages associated with a small increase in carbon dioxide emissions, the value of damages avoided for a small carbon dioxide emission reduction, changes in net agricultural productivity, human health, or property damages from increased flood risk.
9. Cut EPA general counsel’s office by 30 percent. Just like it sounds. Do not allow no more than $40 million be used to pay for personnel in the Office of the General Counsel of the Environmental Protection Agency.
10. Defunding surveillance cameras in national parks. Congress could block any funds from being used to purchase, install, or maintain any surveillance cameras in national forests and other public lands administered by the U.S. Forrest Service.
11. Zero funding the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities. Somehow, we suspect there would be still be arts and humanities in the U.S. without national endowments set up for that purpose. As such, Congress could zero fund both of these agencies to carry out any part of the National Foundation on the Arts and the Humanities Act of 1965.
12. Defunding light bulb ban. In 2007, Congress passed the Energy Independence and Security Act, which was to phase out certain types of incandescent light bulbs. But we don’t have to say goodbye to Thomas Edison’s most famous invention just yet. Congress could block funds from being used to implement or enforce section 430.32(x) of title 10, Code of Federal Regulations; or to implement or enforce the standards established by the tables contained in section 325(i)(1)(B) of the Energy Policy and Conservation Act (42 U.S.C. 6295(i)(1)(B)) with respect to BPAR incandescent reflector lamps, BR incandescent reflector lamps, and ER incandescent reflector lamps.
13. Barring sue and settle arrangements under the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Endangered Species Act. The EPA escalation of sue and settle cases to change the law through federal court rulings threatens to shut down America’s coal producers and other entrepreneurs and compromise our electric grid. Operating hand in hand with radical environmentalist groups that are willing participants in the scam, sue and settle not only endangers the economy, but also the constitutional separation of powers. Congress could deny any funds from being used for paying legal fees or damages under cases in which the government is a party arising those laws and put a stop to it.
14. Protecting ANWR from Obama executive action. Better safe than sorry. Obama asked Congress to designate portions of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) as wilderness, but Congress has not acted. And we all know what that means. Where Congress won’t act, Obama will, so Congress can get ahead of another usurpation by blocking funds from being used to from suddenly claiming ANWR is wilderness.
15. Defunding Special Envoy to get Keystone XL approved. Can we just get this pipeline approved already? Perhaps the Secretary of State and Office of the Special Envoy for Climate Change would notice if the salaries of employees were not permitted to be paid in an amount exceeding $1.00 per pay period until the Secretary of State issues a permit for the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline that shall have effect for a period lasting no less than 10 years.
16. Defunding EPA activities that impose additional, extralegal requirements for approving mine permits. Congress could deny funds from being used in defending the government’s position in the Pebble Limited Partnership versus Environmental Protection Agency case that is blocking gold and copper from being mined in Alaska.
17. Defunding EPA rules on burning wood. But what if it gets cold? Congress may want to consider blocking funds from being used by the EPA to enforce the “New Source Performance Standards for Residential Wood Heaters” or any other rule that that restricts the use of wood burning as a heat source, fireplaces, and for cooking.
18. Reporting on Climate Impacts of Forest Fires. When you engage in proper timbering of our nation’s forests, it can help prevent forest fires. As such, Congress should require the EPA to report on the climate impacts of the forest fires that the agency through its regulation is causing.
19. Defunding Navigable Waters Rule. The EPA thinks it can regulate every pond and puddle in America. But not if Congress steps in. It could block funds from being used to implement Definition of “Waters of the United States” Under the Clean Water Act or any other rule that attempts to define waters of the United States under the Clean Water Act.
20. Defunding Delta Smelt protection and all actions to divert water away from farmers in the San Joaquin delta of California under Endangered Species Act. Water is a big problem in California right now, and for farmers whose lands depended on irrigation waters from the San Joaquin delta, it got a whole lot worse when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decided to start protecting the Delta Smelt. Congress should block funds from being used to divert water from the San Joaquin delta away from agriculture farmland under the guise of protecting the Delta smelt under the Endangered Species Act.
21. Defunding Boiler MACT regulations. Congress could block funds from being used to enforce the Boiler MACT regulations.
22. Defunding additional national monument designations. There’s probably enough national monuments by now. Congress could defund any more from being created under the Antiquites Act of 1906.
23. Defunding no-take zones or marine sanctuaries designations. There’s probably enough no-take zones and marine sanctuaries already, too. Congress could block funds be used to create any more no-take zones or marine sanctuaries in U.S. waters under the National Wildlife Refuge Administration Act, the National Park Service Organic Act, the Wilderness Act, the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, the Coastal Zone Management Act, the National Marine Sanctuaries Act or any other act, executive order, rule, regulation, policy, or initiative.
Robert Romano is the senior editor of Americans for Limited Government.