Nearly a year after passage of the budget reconciliation law known as the Inflation Reduction Act, federal money is pouring into Biden administration programs to address climate change while congressional Republicans are doing what they can to stem the tide.
At least four of the fiscal 2024 House Appropriations bills released so far propose to rescind some funding included in the IRA, including a big chunk of a $27 billion Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund established at the EPA.
The rescissions, targeted at the administration’s landmark effort to spend nearly $370 billion to address climate change, have drawn the ire of environmentalists. Republicans have defended them as part of their no-holds-barred campaign to reduce federal spending.
David Shadburn, senior government affairs advocate at the League of Conservation Voters, said in an interview that Republicans “are very aggrieved certainly at how successful the administration has been so far.”
“Apparently they are doing the bidding of their polluter donors, being very clear that the Inflation Reduction Act is a big target of theirs, because they don’t want to see the clean energy transition that we need to combat the climate crisis,” Shadburn said.
Shadburn’s group is part of a coalition of environmental groups, including Public Citizen and the Environmental Defense Fund, that is calling out at least 17 riders in spending bills that they say “fuel the climate crisis, block clean energy measures, and undermine clean water.”
In a statement issued by the Clean Budget Coalition, Deanna Noël, climate campaigns director for Public Citizen, said the “disgraceful poison pill riders are nothing short of corporate giveaways to the corrupt fossil fuel industry.”
Republicans have argued that some programs funded through the IRA are wasteful and subject to little oversight. Rep. Gary Palmer, R-Ala., sponsored a provision in the energy package passed by the House in March to rescind unobligated funding for the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund, which he called a “slush fund.”
Not all of the 12 annual spending bills have been released, but among those that are public are four that include proposals to rescind unobligated funds from the IRA:
State-Foreign Operations: The draft version of the House bill released in June includes $11.1 billion to be taken from the $27 billion greenhouse gas reduction fund at the EPA.
Energy-Water: The bill includes a $5.6 billion offset by rescinding unspent funds from the IRA and other legislation.
Agriculture: House appropriators listed three rescissions from the IRA, including $3.25 billion from a clean energy program they described as “wasteful”; $500 million from a rural energy program; and $2 billion provided for loan forgiveness.
Financial Services: The Republicans’ House bill would rescind $10.2 billion in mandatory enforcement and operations support funding for the IRS, which was part of an $80 billion pot of money in the tax portions of the Inflation Reduction Act.
The House version of the State-Foreign Operations spending bill also would eliminate funding for 33 special envoys or representatives of the United States operating through the State Department, including the office for John Kerry focused on international climate efforts.
Because Congress would have a more difficult time rescinding funds that are already obligated in the budget, the EPA is racing to distribute as much money as possible from the IRA before cuts could be made.
Late last month, the EPA announced a competitive process for issuing $7 billion in grants for residential solar projects as part of the $27 billion Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund in the budget reconciliation law.
The EPA also proposed an implementation framework in May that outlined plans to establish two other programs that would account for the remaining $20 billion in the fund.