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GOP Spending Plan Crosses First Hurdle, Energy Funding in Jeopardy

Earlier this month the House GOP proposed a $34 billion energy and water spending bill that restores almost $1 billion in cuts from the Army Corps of Engineers and takes money from the Department of Energy (DOE), notable from renewable energy programs.

This week the House Appropriations Committee approved the bill, which in addition to funding programs under the direction of DOE and the corps for fiscal year 2015, contains a number of controversial environmental riders.

The legislation passed on a voice vote with few changes from the original version. It is a $50 million reduction from last year’s funding levels and would boost the coal industry by limiting EPA authority. Other controversial riders include dealing with mining waste and jurisdictional authority over certain bodies of water.

One of the most devastating blows for clean energy advocates and environmentalists is an increase in funding for fossil fuel energy programs at the cost of renewables.

But last night, Senate Democrats pulled a $34.3 billion fiscal 2015 energy and water spending bill from a full committee markup planned for this morning. Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell claimed Democrats were avoiding a vote on the Kentucky Republican’s amendment that blocks EPA from implementing greenhouse gas controls for existing plants unless the administration confirms it won’t increase electricity costs or kill jobs.

“Democrats have praised the President’s job-killing EPA regulations, so you’d think they would want to stand up and defend them. But apparently not,” McConnell spokesman Don Stewart emailed.