A top House Democrat is urging her colleagues to vote no on the fiscal 2018 spending bill because of the threat she said it poses to renewable energy development and clean water regulation.
Rep. Marcy Kaptur of Ohio, the Appropriations Committee's top Democrat on energy, made the comments on the floor ahead of a vote Wednesday night on the House's $789 billion spending bill. The bill would cut clean energy spending and includes controversial amendments allowing the Trump administration to repeal the Environmental Protection Agency's Waters of the U.S. rule by forgoing the normal regulatory review process.
"For that reason, and for the draconian cuts to clean energy, I must urge my colleagues to oppose the energy and water portion of this spending package," Kaptur said. "When those concerns are rolled together with busting the spending caps and building an expensive border wall that doesn't keep us safe or solve our immigration needs, I believe that there is no excuse for any Democrat to support the overall bill before us."
Kaptur comes from a major natural-gas-producing state that has benefited from fracking. "The Department of Energy deserves great credit for bringing us to this point. It took 30 years of DOE support in concert with the private sector to unleash the fracking revolution that changed the world," Kaptur said. But the "next revolution will be the clean energy revolution, and we must not forfeit the game."
"Unfortunately, the artificially low allocation has forced the [Appropriations] chairman to make deep cuts to some of the most important programs in the bill, most notably, the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy," she said.
"Finally, I would like to raise my concerns over the controversial riders that threaten not only the ultimate enactment of this bill, but also our most precious resource: water," Kaptur said.
"Exempting the repeal of the Clean Water Rule [also known as Waters of the U.S.] from the Administrative Procedure Act cedes far too much authority to the executive branch and is something I cannot support," she said.
An amendment has been offered to remove the Environmental Protection Agency clean water amendment from the bill, but it is most likely to fail in the GOP-controlled House.
Kaptur's remarks came just before House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer made a floor speech urging Democrats to reject the bill, which is called a minibus.
"I urge my colleagues to vote no" and "reject this minibus package," the Maryland Democrat said.