As the last days of the year wind down, Congress scurries around
to finish its unfinished business, almost always with
"surprises" for the regulated community.
The House appropriations committee issued a final version of the
2012 Omnibus spending bill last night. It has, of course,
significant implications for energy and environment spending,
particularly spending related to climate change.
The omnibus bill cuts spending on climate change programs,
prohibits the appointment of a Federal "Climate Change
Czar" and cuts spending on climate change research.
Most stunning, of course, are changes to EPA funding.
omnibus bill issued by the House appropriations committee states
that EPA funding has been reduced by almost 19% in
The conference agreement funds EPA at
$8.4 billion, which is a $233 million reduction below the FY 2011
enacted level and $524 million below the President's request.
Overall, funding for EPA has been reduced by $1.8 billion (-18.4%)
in calendar year 2011.
The conference agreement cuts
$14 million (-6%) in clean air and climate research
programs; $12 million (-9.5%) in EPA's regulatory
development office; and $14 million (-5%) to air regulatory
programs. In addition, the bill includes:
A 33% reduction to the EPA Administrator's immediate
A $101 million reduction for the Clean Water and Drinking Water
State Revolving Funds, which received $6 billion in
A $78 million reduction for EPA operations/administration,
which includes $41 million
(-5%) in cuts to EPA's regulatory programs;
A $14 million (-6.2%) reduction for uncoordinated
climate and other air research; and
An elimination of $4 million in funding that EPA has used to
delay the processing of Appalachian mining permits.
These are some other provisions in the omnibus bill that impact
the green building community:
Funding for CBECS may be restored--Funding for
the Commercial Building Energy which was defunded this year may be
restored, paving the way for updating the baseline building energy
data at the heart of Energy Star. Division B, Title III on page 44
provides $105,000,000 for the Energy Information
New energy efficient lighting standards won't go
into effect-- The omnibus bill includes a rider which would prevent the new energy
efficient lighting standards from going into effect on January 1st,
and actually rolls back standards in effect since 2008 for
Innovative Technology Loan Guarantee Program has $0.00
appropriated for 2012. The loan guarantees are for
eligible clean energy projects (i.e., agreeing to repay the
borrower's debt obligation in the event of a default), and by
providing direct loans to eligible manufacturers of advanced
technology vehicles and components.
Appointment of Administration "Czars" for
climate change and urban affairs prohibited.
A full version of the final bill is available here, a summary from the appropriations
committee is here.
On Wednesday, EPA published certain amendments to the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards in the Federal Register. EPA describes most of the changes as "technical corrections," but there is one important substantive change.