The Republican-led Senate is proposing modest spending increases for environmental agencies compared to last year’s budget, diverging from proposed cuts that the Trump White House put forward earlier this year.
In its $38 billion Interior-environment spending bill for fiscal 2021, the Senate Appropriations Committee proposed giving about $13.6 billion to the Interior Department and about $9.09 billion to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
That’s up from the $13.5 billion given to Interior last year and the about $9.06 billion appropriated for the EPA in the last fiscal year. The Senate has also proposed increasing the Energy Department’s budget to about $42 billion, an approximately $3.45 billion increase over last year.
The Democrat-led House has also proposed increases for these agencies.
The push by Congress to increase funding for the agencies comes after the White House in February called for cutting the EPA’s budget by 26 percent, the Interior budget by 16 percent and the Energy Department budget by 8 percent.
The Senate legislation included increases for major agencies at Interior such as the National Park Service, the Fish and Wildlife Service and the Bureau of Land Management.
However, the top Democrat in charge of Interior-environment appropriations in the Senate expressed disappointment at some aspects of the bill.
“We simply need more resources to fund programs that address existential threats such as climate change, imperiled species, and crumbling infrastructure, improve the lives of American Indians and Alaska Natives, and support the nation’s arts and cultural institutions,” Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) said in a statement.
“I am also troubled that the draft continues a number of anti-environmental policy riders from previous years that would bind the incoming Biden-Harris administration before they are even in office and need to be removed, including language to block protections for the sage grouse,” Udall added.
The senator was referring to a provision in the bill that seeks to prevent the sage grouse bird from receiving endangered species protections. The sage grouse is found in the Western U.S. and has caused legal wrinkles for oil and gas producers seeking to lease federal lands.
The bill that contains the Energy Department’s budget, meanwhile, would set aside $150 million to start a uranium reserve program, which the Trump administration has pushed for as part of an effort to increase nuclear energy production.
It would also increase spending on energy efficiency and renewable energy as well as nuclear energy research and development, along with maintaining levels for fossil energy research and development.
Additionally, it would increase funding for the Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy, which President Trump proposed eliminating.
Source; The Hill