Energy and Environmental Provisions of the 2012 Omnibus Spending Bill (Better read this sitting down)

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.  The summary of the omnibus bill issued by the House appropriations committee states that EPA funding has been reduced by almost 19% in 2011:

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 office;
  • A $101 million reduction for the Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Funds, which received $6 billion in “stimulus” funding;
  •  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:

  1. 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 Administration. 
  2. 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 floodlights. 
  3. 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. 
  4. 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.

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Comments (2) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
Bill Jackson - December 20, 2011 3:04 PM

GASP!

EPA's budget is cut, how horrible!

In reality, comparing the stimulus-inflated budgets of 2011 and 2010 to the sustaining numbers for 2012 is BS. Given the tradeoffs that the country is going to be forced to make (unless we want to turn into another Greece) sustaining the EPA at a budget level that is still at $8.97B is still 25% higher than it was for FY09 at $7.1B.

The endless pot of cash from the feds is gone (actually it was never there) and we have to manage our priorities. But given the numbers, I'd say that EPA is doing quite well thank you very much.

Greg Nowell - December 22, 2011 3:44 PM

These provisions give new meaning to phrase "... you'll be getting coal for Christmas".

On the design and construction front, the 2012 House Appropriations Committee has proposed zero dollars for new construction. Zero, despite the fact that labor and material costs are at a historic low. For the government, the time to buy much needed infrastructure improvements couldn't be stronger than right now.

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