Thursday, March 03, 2011

Senate Hearing On EPA FY 2012 Budget & FY 2011 CR

Mar 2: The Senate Environment and Pubic Works (EPW) Committee, Chaired by Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) with Ranking Member James Inhofe (R-OK) held a hearing on the Environmental Protection Agency Fiscal Year 2012 Budget. The only witness was U.S. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson. Both Chairman Boxer and Ranking Member Inhofe delivered opening statements.
    Senator Boxer stated, "The President's budget recognizes the importance of EPA's mission while responsibly cutting spending by more than $1.3 billion -- a 13 percent reduction -- from 2010 levels. I respect the President's effort to cut the deficit during these tough economic times and do it responsibly. For example, the President's budget would make vital investments in enforcing our nation's public health laws, including an agency-wide effort to reduce toxic air pollution in at-risk communities and near schools and other places where kids may be exposed. The budget would also assist state and local efforts to reduce dangerous air pollution and to begin the process of getting the nation's largest emitters of carbon pollution to reduce their emissions. Even where this budget proposes to make cuts, such as the reductions in the Clean Water and Safe Drinking Revolving Loan programs -- it does so after significant increases in recent years that make these reductions more manageable.

    "In stark contrast to the President's support for EPA's essential work to protect our children and families, the recently passed House Continuing Resolution [CR] would cut EPA's overall budget -- and the critical public health protections EPA provides -- by 30 percent this year [See WIMS 2/16/11]. This represents the largest cut to any Federal agency. It would cut an astounding $2 billion from EPA's water infrastructure and water quality protection programs. These cuts mean that our drinking water has a far greater chance of contamination. These cuts also mean thousands of jobs lost – jobs that relate to clean water infrastructure. The CR would cut funds to clean up and redevelop brownfields by 30 percent from 2010 enacted levels – threatening the 5,000 jobs that EPA estimates this program supports. The House budget would slash 45 percent from the 2010 enacted level for federal aid to state, local and tribal governments to protect our communities from dangerous pollution. It also includes backdoor efforts to undermine EPA authorities that protect the air we breathe and the water we drink. . ."
    Senator Boxer concluded saying, "The United States is also the world's largest producer and consumer of environmental technology goods and services. This industry has approximately 119,000 firms. It supports almost 1.7 million jobs and generates $300 billion in revenues -- including $43.8 billion in exports. Why take an axe to these industries? Budgets are clear expressions of priorities. The House-passed Continuing Resolution forces communities to bear the burden of more pollution in our air and water. But the President's budget makes tough choices in a thoughtful way that doesn't sacrifice the huge strides our nation has made towards a clean and safe environment."
    Senator Inhofe said, "Administrator Jackson, it is always good to see you. I suspect these are tough times at EPA, for a variety of reasons. The most obvious is the nation's massive deficits and debt. If we want to eliminate them, Federal agencies must make meaningful fiscal sacrifices-and EPA is no exception. But Administrator Jackson-and I say this with all due respect-instead of sacrifice, I'm afraid EPA's budget submission is yet another fiscal bait and switch. We've seen this before, going back to the Bush Administration: EPA proposes significant cuts that appear fiscally responsible-but in truth they are cuts EPA knows Congress will readily restore.
    "By my calculations, 83% of EPA's proposed cuts come from three water programs with strong bipartisan support in Congress, including $947 million from State Revolving Funds (SRF). These cuts total $1.1 billion. EPA's overall cuts for FY 2012 amount to $1.3 billion. So it's not hard to see the math here. You can bet these cuts will be restored, because many of my colleagues believe these are worthwhile programs. For example, the SRF supports our nation's infrastructure-an area where the federal government has a crucial role to play. Administrator, I call on you to help us find cuts that are more responsible-and more politically realistic. I can think of many programs that don't deserve funding. Item number one-and this should be no surprise-is EPA's greenhouse gas (GHG) regulatory regime.
    I must say, however, that, due to existing GHG regulations, this is more complicated than it seems. The problem is that EPA, states, and regulated entities have legal obligations stemming from existing GHG regulations. We have to ensure, therefore, that our cuts don't have unintended consequences. The best way to eliminate EPA's carbon regime is through an authorization bill. That's why I released the Energy Tax Prevention Act of 2011 with Rep. Fred Upton. This bill puts Congress in charge of deciding our nation's climate change policy, not EPA bureaucrats. And it will keep our focus on reducing real pollution, ensure people have jobs, and allow our economy to grow.
   If we want to make strides in improving public health, we won't do it by regulating carbon dioxide. It's not a pollutant-despite what EPA says. When it comes to real pollution, such as sulfur dioxide and particulate matter, EPA's budget falls short. For example, it eliminates funding for the Diesel Emission Reduction Act, or DERA. This is a program with bipartisan support-from me, Chairman Boxer, Sen. Carper, and others-that we passed last year. It would help reduce real pollutants, but EPA has decided to spend elsewhere. This is irresponsible and, if followed, bad for public health. . ."
    Administrator Jackson testified that, "This budget reflects that good fiscal sense, and makes many tough choices. FY 2010's budget of $10.3 billion was EPA's highest funding level since its creation. This FY 2012 budget request, while a deep cut resulting in a total budget of $8.973 billion, will allow EPA to carry out its core mission and fund the most critical efforts to protect the health of American families. . .
    "This budget represents a nearly 13 percent reduction over the FY 2010 budget and reflects our priorities: supporting action on climate change and improving air quality; protecting America's waters; building strong state and tribal partnerships; strengthening enforcement and compliance; enhancing chemical safety; supporting healthy communities; and maintaining a strong science foundation. Because of the constrained fiscal environment, the Budget decreases the State Revolving Funds (SRFs) by nearly $950 million while supporting a longterm goal of providing about 5 percent of total water infrastructure spending and spurring more efficient systemwide planning. The Budget also reduces the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative by $125 million, eliminates about $160 million in targeted water infrastructure earmarks, and eliminates $60 million for clean diesel grants. . ."
    On the controversial subject of funding for greenhouse gas control and climate change she said, "Our budget requests $46 million for additional regulatory efforts aimed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and address the Climate and Clean Energy Challenge. This includes $30 million in state grants and support for permitting, which will ensure that our state partners develop the technical capacity to address greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act. Also included is $6.0 million in additional funding for the development and implementation of new emission standards that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions from mobile sources such as passenger cars, lightduty trucks, and mediumduty passenger vehicles. These funds also will support EPA's assessment and potential development, in response to legal obligations, of standards for other mobile sources. Also included is $7.5 million for the assessment and potential development of New Source Performance Standards for several categories of major stationary sources through means that are flexible and manageable for business. Finally, this amount includes an additional $2.5 million for priority measurement, reporting and verification activities related to implementing the GHG Reporting Rule, to ensure the collection of high quality data. . ."
    Access the hearing website with links to testimony, statements and a webcast (click here). Access the 6-page summary of budget details for EPA (click here). Access the detailed 128-page budget summary for EPA (click here).
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