As the debt ceiling debate continues in Washington, the focus is on curbing spending and getting the country's fiscal house in order. And while most are talking about Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and defense spending, some are asking, what does this mean for environmental and energy policy?

That was exactly the question that Amy Harder raised over at the National Journal. Harder pointed out that the big energy debate in Washington is over two starkly different views of the Department of Interior’s and EPA’s roles in protecting the environment. “This week,” wrote Harder, “the House will debate its FY2012 EPA/Interior spending bill. That measure slashes funding for both the Environmental Protection Agency and the Interior Department, and includes myriad policy riders that gut environmental regulations, ranging from President Obama's contentious climate-change rules to public-lands protection.”

Already, Harder has got some reaction from what she says will be the big energy issues of the week. Bob Bendick of the Nature Conservancy points out that cuts to environmental protections don’t add up to any measurable savings for the federal government. “In real dollars, total funding for the environment and conservation has been almost flat for 30 years. Conservation did not cause the budget deficit and cutting conservation cannot fix the deficit,” says Bendick.

It will be interesting to see if anything, besides the debt ceiling debate, can get any traction this week in Washington.

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