Federal Water Tap, July 2: Budget Cuts to EPA, Interior in House Spending Bill

The House Appropriations Committee passed a spending bill for the Department of the Interior, the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Forest Service and 20 related agencies that cut total spending by 4 percent, and by 6 percent compared to the president’s request.

The EPA shoulders most of the pain, seeing its budget cut $1.4 billion, or 17 percent. More than three-fifths of the cuts come from the state revolving funds, which provide low-interest loans for drinking water and wastewater projects.

Lawless Border Region
The House of Representatives passed a bill to allow the Border Patrol to ignore environmental laws on federal lands within 100 miles of the Mexican and Canadian borders. The Associated Press reports that the bill, which would nullify, among others, the Wilderness Act and the Endangered Species Act, is not likely to garner enough support in the Senate.

Program Oversight
The Government Accountability Office says that the EPA’s grant program to reduce nonpoint source water pollution—usually runoff from farms or city streets—could achieve better outcomes with a more rigorous selection process and better oversight from the agency’s 10 regional offices.

Forest Roads
The U.S. Supreme Court will consider whether the muddy stormwater that comes off of forest logging roads should be regulated like industrial wastewater, the Associated Press reports.

Energy Outlook
The Energy Information Administration released its Annual Energy Outlook 2012, which estimates energy trends—supply, demand, and prices—through 2035. Energy use in the U.S. is projected to grow slower in the next two decades than in the two decades preceding the 2008-09 recession.

Water Meeting
A committee that advises federal agencies on water issues will hold a public meeting on July 10-11, near Washington, D.C. The committee will discuss groundwater monitoring, water quality analysis, climate change, as well as hearing updates from its various working groups. For more information, contact Wendy Norton at wenorton@usgs.gov. Information about viewing a webcast of the meeting will be posted here.

Oil Spills
The National Research Council is beginning a study of oil spills in the Arctic. The council is accepting nominations for the study committee through July 6.

Federal Water Tap is a weekly digest spotting trends in U.S. government water policy. To get more water news, follow Circle of Blue on Twitter and sign up for our newsletter.

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