White House Denies Rumor of Reduced EPA Enforcement Authority

According to a story released by the Associated Press with further comment in the Baltimore Sun’s B’More Green blog , the AP is reporting that an unnamed Democratic congressman said the Obama administration is willing to accept curbs on the Environmental Protection Agency possibly even the agency’s controversial Chesapeake Bay pollution diet – as part of negotiating federal spending curbs through September.

“A Democratic lawmaker familiar with a meeting Wednesday between Obama and members of the Congressional Black Caucus said the administration made it clear that some House GOP proposals restricting the Environmental Protection Agency’s regulatory powers would have to make it into the final bill. In order to characterize the White House’s position, the lawmaker insisted on anonymity because the meeting was private,” the story said.

“It’s not clear which proposals the White House might accept,” the AP report added, “but those backed by Republicans would block the government from carrying out regulations on greenhouse gases, putting in place a plan to clean up the Chesapeake Bay and from shutting down mountaintop mines it believes will cause too much water pollution.”

In a fairly prompt apparent response to the media speculation, it appears the White House has quashed rumors of a deal. From the Washington Post’s “Plum Line” Column, here’s a statement from the executive offices:

But White House spokesman Clark Stevens emails that the White House is still committed to opposing any EPA “riders”:

As the administration has made clear, the funding bill should not be used to further unrelated policy agendas, and we remain opposed to riders that do that, including as it relates to the environment.

It’s also worth noting that the original AP story said that it wasn’t clear which of the GOP proposals on the EPA the White House was supposedly prepared to support. The original story floated the possibility that the White House might only give on EPA plans to clean up Chesapeake Bay or shut down mountaintop mines — and not on the core GOP proposal of scuttling EPA’s power to regulate greenhouse gases.

As a side note, even Republicans I’ve spoken with privately concede that they’re well aware that it’s unlikely that the latter is a concession they could win, since it would be very hard for many Congressional Dems to support any budget deal containing it.

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