Governor Leavitt, it is good to see you again.
The Environmental Protection Agency's budget is arguably the most important tool we have today for ensuring that the environment, the air we breathe, and the water we drink, are safe for us and for our children. I appreciate you taking time today to help this committee understand what the EPA proposes to do with its budget in the coming year.
We spend about $26 per American per year to fund the EPA’s budget of almost $8 billion. Today we are focused on whether we should spend a bit more or less. I recognize that over the 34 years since the EPA was established, this annual investment has been one of our national success stories. The gains we have made in cleaning up the environment and, equally important, in preventing it from becoming polluted in the first place would have been hard to imagine 34 years ago.
However, with something as important as people's health and the quality of the environment, we cannot rest on past success. An important question for us today is do you have the resources you need at the EPA to carry out the agency's mission, and have those resources been allocated in ways that will allow you to achieve the goals that we all share for our environment?
I would be supportive of a budget request that increases spending on clean water, and on clean air, but that does so in a responsible manner. However as a former Governor like you, I would not be supportive of a budget that shifts the costs of maintaining our environment to the states. I would not be supportive of a budget that seeks to implement the provisions of the President's Clear Skies proposal thru rulemakings while that same proposal has failed to gain support as legislation in Congress.
On December 15th of last year, the EPA proposed new regulations for the control of mercury emissions from electric power plants. On December 19th, I wrote to the President asking that he withdraw those rules and instead work with Congress on a legislative solution for mercury emissions as part of comprehensive 4-pollutant legislation. Unfortunately, those rules have not been withdrawn. I do not think that the EPA's budget should include funds to implement that rule in FY05, and I will explore that with you during the question period.
I would also like to take a minute to remind you of two other major environmental issues in Delaware that are also of concern to the nation. First is clean water. The EPA's budget is inadequate for fixing our nation's outdated sewer systems in older cities such as Wilmington, Delaware. As a nation, our investment in clean water is only a fraction of what is necessary to meet the clean water goals. I hope you will fight for increased funds for the clean water programs of the agency so that cities such as Wilmington, DE and Washington DC can stop polluting rivers and streams.
Second, is the clean air matters associated with refineries such as the Motiva oil refinery in Delaware City. I appreciate your confirmation last month that the EPA will hold the new owners of the refinery to the same requirements as Motiva was to meet. It is important that everything is done to reduce emissions from refineries and other heavy industries.
Governor Leavitt, if you were before this committee today to tell us that all of the environmental challenges were resolved, and that the agency has fulfilled its promise of 30 years ago, I would understand this budget – in fact I might even say it is too large. However – I don’t think you can convince me that the problems are solved, or that those that remain are the cheap ones to fix. I think we have already done that and what remains are the difficult, costly issues such as non-point source pollution reductions.
In closing, I ask that you work with us here on the committee, and in Congress to make certain that you have what you really need at the agency. Be straightforward in telling us what the real demands are so that we can plan for them. Today we must look closely at each federal dollar spent, but I will do whatever I can to help you get what you need. I ask that you tell me what that is.
Thanks again for being here today.