U.S. Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works
U.S. Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works
Hearing Statements
Date:   03/10/2004
 
Statement of Senator Christopher S. Bond
EPA Budget for FY2005 Hearing

• Thank you, Mr Chairman, for hosting this hearing to review the FY '05 President's Budget for the Environmental Protection Agency. Thank you, Governor Leavitt, for attending.

• EPA is doing great things to improve the environment. Last week, we received news that engine manufacturers are on target to meet more stringent 2007 clean-diesel regulations. Our friends at the Natural Resources Defense Council called this Bush rule "the most significant public health proposal in decades."

• Once the 2007 program is fully implemented, our families will breathe 2.6 million fewer tons of smog-causing nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions each year. Our communities will receive 110,000 tons less soot or particulate matter. EPA's actions will save an estimated 8,300 premature deaths, avoid 5,500 cases of chronic bronchitis and prevent 17,600 cases of acute bronchitis in children each year.

• The record of EPA improving the environment and public health under President Bush does not stop there. President Bush is mandating a cut in mercury emissions from electric utilities for the first time ever.

• Not President Clinton, not President Carter, but President Bush is the first President ever to require utilities to cut their mercury emissions. In 1994, the Clinton administration was sued for failing to control power plant emissions of mercury. The Clinton administration took six years to resolve the suit.

• The Bush administration now fulfills that promise with its plan to cut mercury emissions by nearly 70 percent. Some critics argue 70 percent is not enough. They argue for a so-called Maximum Achievable Control Technology rule with deeper cuts. Well the law says maximum ACHIEVABLE - not maximum never been commercially proven, don't know it will work full scale, over time, on all types of fuels rule.

• The Clean Air Act also says that utilities be regulated under the MACT section 112 only if other authorities of the Act, once implemented, do not adequately address hazardous emissions. So I am glad the administration is wisely pursuing a cap-and-trade strategy under section 111. Cap-and-trade was a phenomenal success at cutting acid rain pollution. I applaud the President for applying it to cut mercury pollution as well.

• In this time of gradual economic recovery, we must pursue strategies that both protect the environment and protect the family budget. Mercury strategies that force a switch from coal to natural gas cause exorbitant natural gas and electricity price increases.

• Recent four-pollutant and climate change proposals would raise family electricity bills by nearly 50 percent. Our fixed income seniors and economically disadvantaged struggle to put food on the table and keep their kids in school clothes. They cannot afford massive heating and electric bill increases. I cannot impose such hardships on our families.

• At the same time we protect the environment and the family budget, we must be mindful of the federal budget. We on the appropriations subcommittee funding EPA will get into the specifics of EPA's budget later this month. But the outlook for VA/HUD looks particularly bleak.

• We must remember that EPA competes for dollars within the same appropriations subcommittee as NASA, the VA, and HUD. Every new dollar spent on the environment is one dollar we cannot spend to provide healthcare to our veterans or shelter for our homeless. Every time one of our colleagues suggest spending more money for an EPA program, each of us should think to ourselves whether that is more important than VA medical care or homeless housing assistance grants.

• Make no mistake, I believe there are vital programs at EPA we must fund to improve the environment. I have been a long-standing supporter of helping local communities provide safe drinking water and clean their wastewater. The federal government has imposed national water requirements with an estimated $500 billion funding shortfall. We cannot abdicate our responsibility to help close this gap.

• So I am disappointed yet again to see the green eyeshades at OMB cutting the Clean Water SRF. I am also disappointed with cuts to the Section 319 nonpoint source water program. Farms helped with USDA money are not the only contributors to nonpoint source pollution, so we must also combat this environmental problem through the EPA budget.

• I agree that we need more funds for the Superfund program. However, we must end this notion that we should clean up every site immediately. Many of the sites ready for cleanup are protected and stable. They pose no health threat to their surrounding area. We have higher risk environmental problems we must solve first.

• One national high risk problem is terrorism. EPA plays a role in critical infrastructure protection as lead agency for drinking water protection.

EPA also supports the FBI in counter-terrorism and terrorism response activities. It would be nice if EPA could receive funding out of the homeland security function, but I do not know if that is possible.

• I am concerned that some programs, like the Criminal Enforcement program, are straining under the dual weights of enforcing environmental crimes and supporting homeland security duties. Also, local drinking water agencies have received federal funds to assess their vulnerabilities to terrorist attack, but a great need remains to implement physical protection measures. We need to address these issues.

• Finally, on some parochial issues, you and I, Governor, will be having more conversations about whether it is fair to include far-flung counties such as Ste. Genevieve with their distant urban nonattainment center, in this case St. Louis, when the county does not contribute to the region's nonattainment.

• We also need to find ways to get farm coops and dealers better briefed on EPA reporting requirements for their anhydrous ammonia stocks. Methamphetamine makers are stealing anhydrous ammonia meant for fertilizer, leaving tanks open, and then EPA is slapping farm coops with enforcement orders and bullying them with maximum penalties. There must be a better way to handle this situation. I look forward to discussing these problems with you further. Thank you.