EPA Faces Pressure from CongressMarch 24, 2011
EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson has been spending a lot of time on Capitol Hill recently as the EPA faces greater scrutiny and a tighter budget. Jackson has recently testified before numerous US House and Senate committees about the actions and goals of the EPA. This increased oversight, combined with budget cuts, could significantly impact the EPA's plans to regulate greenhouse gases (GHG).
Several actions by the U.S. House of Representatives are aimed at slowing or stopping altogether the EPA's regulation of CO2 under the Clean Air Act (CAA).
The House of Representatives' Energy and Commerce Committee is considering legislation drafted by Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) designed to strip the Environmental Protection Agency of its authority to regulate greenhouse gases under the CAA.
The proposed legislation, referred to as the "Energy Tax Prevention Act of 2011," would overturn not only the Massachusetts v. EPA decision but also the EPA's 2009 scientific determination that greenhouse gas emissions endanger human health and the environment. The bill would also block any Clean Air Act standards for greenhouse gas pollution from cars and trucks after 2016.
Democrats have focused on the scientific aspects of the bill, while Republicans have emphasized their view that EPA regulations will harm the economy and job creation. The nation's recently rising gas prices have also been discussed in connection with this bill.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said that Upton's bill is expected to come before the full House "in the next couple of weeks."
Meanwhile in the Senate, Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) is shopping a bill that would delay EPA regulation of sources like power plants and factories for two years.
House Republicans have also vowed to block the EPA from enforcing its climate regulations through budget measures.
Congress is still working to pass a budget for the remainder of this fiscal year, and some Republicans are pushing for measures that would prevent the EPA from using the funds to implement its pending climate change rules. A moratorium on spending in this fiscal year could allow enough time for a bill that would permanently strip the EPA's authority, to pass.
Republicans are not the only ones seeking to cut the EPA's budget.President Obama's proposed budget for the 2012 fiscal year includes $8.973billion, a decrease of 13% from the EPA’s 2010 budget of $10.3 billion. Administrator Jackson stresses that, "This budget focuses our resources on the most urgent health and environmental challenges we face. Though it includes significant cuts, it provides EPA with what we need to fundamentally protect the health of the American people."
Some key 2012 budget initiatives include:
An additional $46 million for regulatory efforts to reduce greenhouse gas(GHG) pollution and implement GHG reporting requirements under the Clean Air Act. This includes $25 million for states and $5 million for the EPA to address GHGs in Clean Air Act permitting activities.
$350 million for projects strategically chosen to target the most significant threats to people's health in the Great Lakes ecosystem, a $125million decrease from FY 2010, the first year of the initiative.
$2.5 billion--a decrease of $947 million-- combined for the Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Funds (SRFs). The EPA will continue to work with states and communities to enhance their capacity to provide clean water and safe drinking water to Americans.
$1.2 billion for the Superfund program to support cleanup at hazardous waste sites that addresses human health and environmental hazards at the nation's highest priority sites. While the EPA will be exploring efficiencies in the program, the $70 million reduction to Superfund programs will slow the pace of new projects and completion of projects.
$27.5 million increase in enforcement and compliance, allowing for critical investments to increase efficiencies and streamline enforcement by using the latest e-reporting and monitoring tools. The EPA will increase oversight and inspections at high risk chemical and oil facilities in order to protect Americans' health.
$16.1 million more to reduce chemical risks, increase the pace of chemical hazard assessments, and provide the public with greater access to chemical information so they can make better informed decisions about their health.
$1.2 billion for state and tribal grants -- an overall increase of $84.9 million over FY 2010.
$584 million to support research and innovation into new and emerging environmental science. This includes a $24.7 million increase to Science to Achieve Results (STAR) grants to ensure that the EPA is using the best science to protect the air we breathe, the water we drink and the land we build our communities on. The EPA's research program is being restructured to ensure that scientific work is conducted more efficiently and effectively.
More information about the EPA's proposed FY 2012 budget is available on the EPA website.
This post was authored by Hamilton Consulting Group's intern, Emily Kelchen, a third year law student at the University of Wisconsin Law School.