Madam Chairman, I look forward to today’s hearing and the chance to discuss EPA’s priorities for the coming year.
Before I begin, though, I want to discuss Administrator Jackson’s recent efforts to promote openness and transparency at EPA. I applaud Administrator Jackson for establishing clear, precise guidelines on transparency. According to the Administrator’s April 23rd memo, the Agency will “reach out as broadly as possible for the views of interested parties” when developing regulations. I trust the Administrator and her staff will honor this principle, especially as the agency considers regulating greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act. We don’t agree on this issue – I am strongly opposed to carbon regulation under the Clean Air Act and I will try to stop it – but at least we can agree that EPA should remain open to a wide variety of viewpoints.
Also, I was pleased that Administrator Jackson recognized the importance of congressional oversight. Already I have submitted requests for information on many issues, and I will continue to seek information on issues before the Agency. Thus far, from my standpoint, the record of the agency has been mixed. I hope that with future requests, on a more consistent basis, I can receive answers to questions in a timely and substantive manner. I look forward to working with the Administrator and her staff on this.
Now, on to the budget. Permit me to put this year’s EPA budget request in context.
Since January 20, the day President Obama took office, over two million Americans have lost their jobs and one million families have lost their homes to foreclosure.
From January to March of this year, the nation’s Gross Domestic Product dropped by a larger than expected 6.1 percent.
And yet, since January 20, we have spent $787 billion in an economic stimulus package and increased the public debt by $558 billion.
Now, in spite of these massive spending increases and economic problems, the president proposes what I can only call a stunning increase in federal spending: a total of $3.4 trillion. This is more than the nation has ever spent under any other president. It will also create a $1.8 trillion federal deficit – the highest ever.
The President also proposes some budget cuts, to the tune of $17 billion. Half of those will come from defense spending. So, according to the President’s budget, and during a time of war no less, we are being asked to cut a number of next-generation weapons systems for our war fighters. Yet there seems to be enough money to increase EPA’s budget by a staggering 37 percent.
Now don’t get me wrong: there are legitimate areas of EPA’s budget that deserve funding increases. The Clean Water State Revolving Loan Funds are a good example. But we must remember the proper balance between environmental protection and economic growth. We will not end this recession, or attain a cleaner, healthier environment, by enlarging EPA’s bureaucracy with taxpayer dollars.
The President made a point of saying recently that he wants his Cabinet to identify $100 million in cuts out of his multi-trillion dollar budget. I think he can find that extra $100 million in EPA’s bloated budget request alone.
The President’s EPA budget in many respects fuels a growing bureaucracy and encourages more misguided regulation, both of which threaten jobs, our energy security, and our economic competitiveness, not to mention our citizens’ freedoms.
Thank you, Madam Chairman.