The House approved the FY13 Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations bill (H.R. 5325) on a vote of 255-165. The legislation provides the annual funding for the various agencies and programs under the Dept. of Energy (DOE) and other related agencies, and totals $32.1 billion – a cut of $965 million below the President’s budget request.

Rep. Rehberg (R-MT) included a rider to the bill that would prevent EPA and the US Army Corps of Engineers from implementing proposed guidance which is currently under review by the Office of Management & Budget. The guidance would help define which waters qualify for regulation under the Clean Water Act (CWA).

Agriculture, homebuilding, mining and oil industries claim the guidance would trample private property rights and expand the federal government's powers under the CWA beyond constitutional limits. Administration officials and environmentalists support the guidance as an overdue effort to restore federal water pollution and wetland-filling rules rolled back by the Bush administration in the wake of two confusing Supreme Court rulings.

The White House has threatened to veto the legislation over opposition to this rider as well as one that would prohibit the use of funds to terminate the license application process for the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository.

Meanwhile, the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee passed H.R. 4965 by a bipartisan vote of 33-18. This bill also will prevent EPA and the Corps from moving forward with the guidance. According to the committee Chairman and bill sponsor, Rep. Mica (R-FL), “Any agency efforts to expand the federal government’s regulatory reach must be done with transparency under the Administrative Procedures Act – not the unlawful, backdoor conversion of publicly unvetted agency guidance into de facto federal regulation.”

In addition to Chairman Mica, the bipartisan bill is sponsored by Ranking Member Rahall (D-WV), Water Resources & Environment Subcommittee Chairman Gibbs (R-OH), Agriculture Committee Chairman Lucas (R-OK), Agriculture Ranking Member Peterson (D-MN), Rep. Noem (R-SD) and 58 other members.