House Republicans are fond of accusing the Obama Administration of trying to “regulate when it cannot legislate.” With a slight modification, a similar accusation can be hurled at House Republicans: They are trying to appropriate when they cannot legislate. This accusation has the benefit of actually being true.
The Fiscal Year 2012 appropriations bill for the EPA and the Department of Interior, currently being debated in the People’s House, is loaded down with dozens of anti-environment and anti-public safety policy riders. Several of these riders are virtually identical to bills that have been considered or are being considered in the House, but which have no chance of passing the Senate or surviving a presidential veto. These riders include a measure that prohibits the EPA from regulating coal ash as a hazardous waste (Section 434), blocks the EPA’s efforts to regulate greenhouse gases (Section 431), exempts offshore oil drilling facilities from several Clean Air Act requirements (Section 443), among others.
None of these policy riders would save the American taxpayer a single dime. They do, however, offer House Republicans a better chance to advance their anti-regulatory agenda than would a stand-alone bill—a wildly inappropriate end-run around the constitutionally mandated legislative process designed to provide their corporate benefactors with benefits that would otherwise be opposed by the majority of Americans.
One of these riders that warrants special attention can be found in Section 462 (page 151). It sounds more innocuous than many of the others, because ...