Statement of Senator Joseph I. Lieberman
Hearing on the President’s Proposed EPA Budget for FY 2008
March 7, 2007
Thank you, Madame Chairman, for holding this hearing to examine the Administration’s proposed EPA budget for fiscal year 2008. I’m concerned that this budget is insufficient to adequately protect the nation’s people from air and water pollution and fulfill the agency’s mission of providing a “cleaner, healthier environment for the American people.”
The public is justified in expecting the federal government to provide a reasonable amount of money to help state and local governments maintain and increase water and air quality standards. Unfortunately, under the Administration’s proposed budget for Fiscal year 2008, the federal government will devote $396.2 million less to the Clean Water State Revolving Loan Fund. This program is key to maintaining and improving wastewater treatment infrastructure and assuring water quality. The 37% reduction from funding appropriated by Congress in the Fiscal Year 2007 Continuing Resolution is unfortunate when one considers that the EPA has estimated an investment of nearly $400 billion is needed over the next 20 years to maintain water quality. Additionally, when 150 million people with the United States live in areas where air quality standards are less than optimal, we should not be cutting funds for State and Local Air Quality Management Programs by $35 million.
The perpetuation of inadequate funding for the Superfund program is of concern, as these contaminated industrial sites continue to harm our children, our families, and our communities. EPA concedes that currently human exposure to hazardous contaminants is occurring at two sites in my state:
In Stratford, Connecticut, wastes containing lead, asbestos, and PCBs are found at thirty locations, including a residential parcel and a community park. Groundwater contaminated with volatile organic compounds flows beneath one hundred and twenty homes in the town. Indoor air testing has confirmed probable intrusion of those compounds unto the basements of those homes.
In Durham, Connecticut, eighty houses abut and surround a contaminated industrial site. Children live in approximately thirty of those homes. All of the homes, in addition to three churches and a school, lie within the lateral extent of the plume of contaminated groundwater that extends from the industrial site. All of the buildings in the area get their water from wells.
The Administration’s proposed budget cuts the Superfund Program by nearly $7 million. Even more disturbing is the inability of EPA to admit that funding levels are not sufficient despite their admission that an increasing percentage of sites remaining in the program are large, highly-complex mega-sites and the fact that the rate of cleanups per year has declined; the projected site cleanups for this year is 24 compared to approximately 40 sites the last six years.
The Energy Star program is broadly recognized as an effective tool for increasing the efficiency of United States energy use. In fact, the Administration cites the Energy Star program as a prominent component of the Climate Protection Program, the EPA response to the threat of climate change. EPA literature claims that every dollar spent by EPA on its technology deployment programs, (of which Energy Star is one example), has reduced greenhouse gas emissions by more than 3.7 tons of CO2, and delivered more than $75 in energy bill savings. Despite that success, the Energy Star budget has been cut by 11% for 2008. There is disconnect between the EPA citation of Energy Star as evidence of the White House commitment to the threat of climate change and the budget cut.
Thank you, Madame Chairman.