Senator Bob Smith
Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works
February 13, 2001
Good Morning and welcome to Governor Whitman. It is always good see you before this committee -- itís been just over a year since you were here for your confirmation hearing.†††
What a year it has been. There have been a number of challenges - some expected, some not. And it doesnít appear that it will be getting any easier.
I want to thank you for all of your efforts over the past year - I think you have done a tremendous job.
Today, we are here to discuss EPAís FY 2003 budget. Once again, I am very pleased that this budget is about partnership with the States and achieving results through cooperation. Of course I am especially pleased to see the doubling of funds for Brownfields. Not only will those dollars help to clean up our environment and spur economic recovery through redevelopment, this money, combined with the new law will also unleash millions of dollars in private sector investment.
One year ago, almost to the day, as the chairman this of committee, I, along with Senators Reid, Chafee and Boxer, introduced the Brownfields bill that was just recently signed into law by President. Within two months, the bill had unanimously passed the Senate -- it took a little longer to get through the House - but it is now law.
I certainly want to thank you for your support of our legislation - making Brownfields an Administration priority - without your help, this bill never would have become law. I also want to thank you for joining me in New Hampshire to visit a Brownfield in Winchester shortly after Senate passage.
Now that we have a new law, maybe I can convince you to come back up to New Hampshire to help celebrate this tremendous victory. †I canít stress enough how important this is, not only to New Hampshire, but to the entire nation. This budget recognizes that fact and provides the resources to spur these clean-ups.
I am also pleased to see the new Watershed Initiative in EPAís budget. This initiative seems very similar to a community-based approach in a bill I introduced with Senator Crapo last Congress. That bill created a pilot program that allowed local communities to experiment with different approaches to reach their clean water goals. I am eager to learn more about the program in this budget.
Also worth noting is the State Enforcement Grant Program -- once again, working with the States to help them enforce environmental laws and regulations. Over 90% of enforcement actions are carried out by the States C this budget understands that fact and provides the necessary resources to help ensure that our laws are being enforced.
This budget also recognizes the new world that we have lived in since September 11. It provides $124 million in new funding for Homeland Security.† Included is money for: Enhancing emergency response capabilities; conducting water system vulnerability assessments; and conducting research on better technologies and assessments to clean up buildings that have been the targets of biological or chemical attacks.
This is the reality of today and this budget takes the appropriate steps to address what this nation is facing. On the negative side, I would be remiss if I did not mention my disappointment with the lack of adequate funding in the Clean Water State Revolving Loan Fund. This seems to be an annual ritual, regardless of who is occupying the White House. I understand the budget tricks, but it would be nice if just one year we could have a budget number that is close to what is necessary and what will eventually be reality.
But on balance I believe this budget is one that sets very strong pro-environmental, pro-State priorities.
When I first became Chairman over two years ago, I made it clear that it was one of my goals to see an Environmental Protection Agency that: promotes partnerships with the States; encourages cooperation over confrontation; and an Agency that focuses on efforts that will RESULT in a cleaner, healthier environment. Governor Whitman, I believe that under your guidance, EPA is headed in that direction and this budget reflects those priorities.