EPA Slams House Republicans For Trying To Gut Environmental Protections


The heads of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) fired back Tuesday against a proposed budget from the the Republican-led House, telling reporters the appropriations bill is “short-sighted” with “terrible real-world consequences.” The House of Representatives is currently debating an appropriations bill that would reduce the EPA’s budget by $718 million, or by 9 percent, and prohibit certain environmental regulations, including a sweeping proposal from the Obama administration to tackle carbon emissions. “We are deeply disappointed in the bill,” OMB Director Shaun Donovan said on a call Tuesday. “Representatives are attempting to hijack the appropriations process.” Donovan told reporters the overall budget locks in sequestration for agencies like the EPA and reflects the lowest real levels of funding in a decade. Nearly every state has water or conservation projects that would be put on hold, he noted. EPA chief Gina McCarthy echoed Donovan’s concerns, rattling off a litany of cuts the agency would experience. Under the appropriation bills, the EPA would be prohibited from finalizing the Clean Power Plan. The bill would also delay implementation of the Waters of the United States rule, which offers protection to two million miles of streams and 20 million acres of wetlands. A grant program to revitalize brownfields would be reduced by a third. “The protection of public health and the environment will be compromised,” McCarthy said. She added that the practical results will also be more costly than implementing the programs. Thousands of construction jobs will be lost just through cuts to the revolving fund, a financing mechanism that allows states and municipalities to invest in clean water projects, she said. The cuts are included in the Interior and Environmental budget proposed in June by a Republican-led House Appropriations Committee. The committee’s goal was to “fight job-crushing regulations, protect the nation’s natural resources, and promote safe and sustainable American energy.” The bill includes extra-budgetary provisions to block EPA implementation of the proposed Clean Power Plan and the newly released Waters of the United States rule. Attacking environmental protections has emerged a key priority for House Republicans, who have often accused the Obama Administration of a “war on coal.” Globally and in the United States, coal is a major contributor to global warming. In 2013, coal accounted for three-quarters of emissions from the electricity sector — the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions. But the idea that regulation costs more than it is worth has been raised and often disproved throughout U.S. history. “Regulatory requirements to protect the environment, workers, and consumers often lead to innovation, increased productivity, and new businesses and jobs,” according to a report by the Pew Charitable Trusts, which found that “historically, compliance costs have been less and benefits greater than industry predictions.” A separate report by the Economic Policy Institute’s concurred, saying that not only does industry routinely overestimate the cost of compliance, but the EPA also historically underestimates the benefits of its regulations. Recently, though, several states and a coal company sued to stop the Clean Power Plan, which will restrict the amount of carbon emitted by the electricity sector, saying it is bad for business. The EPA estimates the Clean Power Plan will have “climate and health benefits worth an estimated $55 billion to $93 billion per year in 2030,” which include the prevention of “2,700 to 6,600 premature deaths and 140,000 to 150,000 asthma attacks in children.” Another, independent report found that the rule will create 100,000 jobs. In another case, the Supreme Court recently put another EPA regulation, the Mercury Air Toxics (MATs), rule in jeopardy, finding that the EPA should have considered the costs of the regulation earlier in the rule-making process. The rule, which was expected to prevent 11,000 premature deaths each year and has been an administrative priority, was estimated to have monetized benefits of between $37 billion and $90 billion. It was expected to cost $9.7 billion to implement the pollution reductions. Ironically, the budget — which covers the Forest Service — was proposed as wildfires rage across the western United States and Canada. For years, the Forest Service has been underfunded, burning through its fire-fighting budget and being forced to borrow funds from its prevention programs to continue services. The bill would cut the funding for the Department of the Interior, the EPA, the Forest Service, the Indian Health Service, and some related agencies by $246 million from last year to $30.17 billion in base funding. The total allocation is $3 billion below the White House’s requested amount. Tags appropriations billBudgetEnvironmental Protection AgencyEPAHouseOMB The post EPA Slams House Republicans For Trying To Gut Environmental Protections appeared first on ThinkProgress.


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