(Remarks as prepared for delivery)
Welcome, Administrator Jackson, to this oversight hearing on the 2012 budget for the EPA.
The mission EPA undertakes every day is critically important to children and families, and communities large and small all across America. It is a mission created with bipartisan support, and one that has made huge strides to improve our families' health by keeping our air and water clean and safe.
The President’s budget recognizes the importance of EPA’s mission while responsibly cutting spending by more than $1.3 billion -- a 13 percent reduction -- from 2010 levels. I respect the President’s effort to cut the deficit during these tough economic times and do it responsibly.
For example, the President’s budget would make vital investments in enforcing our nation’s public health laws, including an agency-wide effort to reduce toxic air pollution in at-risk communities and near schools and other places where kids may be exposed.
The budget would also assist state and local efforts to reduce dangerous air pollution and to begin the process of getting the nation’s largest emitters of carbon pollution to reduce their emissions.
Even where this budget proposes to make cuts, such as the reductions in the Clean Water and Safe Drinking Revolving Loan programs -- it does so after significant increases in recent years that make these reductions more manageable.
In stark contrast to the President’s support for EPA’s essential work to protect our children and families, the recently passed House Continuing Resolution would cut EPA’s overall budget -- and the critical public health protections EPA provides -- by 30 percent this year. This represents the largest cut to any Federal agency.
It would cut an astounding $2 billion from EPA’s water infrastructure and water quality protection programs. These cuts mean that our drinking water has a far greater chance of contamination. These cuts also mean thousands of jobs lost – jobs that relate to clean water infrastructure.
The CR would cut funds to clean up and redevelop brownfields by 30 percent from 2010 enacted levels – threatening the 5,000 jobs that EPA estimates this program supports.
The House budget would slash 45 percent from the 2010 enacted level for federal aid to state, local and tribal governments to protect our communities from dangerous pollution.
It also includes backdoor efforts to undermine EPA authorities that protect the air we breathe and the water we drink.
These attempts to undercut landmark public health protections comes as EPA just released a new report showing that the Clean Air Act provides $30 in benefits for every $1 invested. This report also shows that the Clean Air Act prevented 160,000 cases of premature mortality, 130,000 heart attacks, 13 million lost work days and 1.7 million asthma attacks in the year 2010 alone.
We are facing tough economic times, but tough times call for intelligent decision-making and wisdom, not reckless cuts that will do more harm than good – cuts that will lead to illness and premature death.
We must protect the health of our children, while also building clean technology industries that can fuel the nation’s economy in the coming decades.
We have seen that protecting the health of our families and economic growth go hand in hand. Since the year Congress enacted the Clean Air Act, US GDP has risen by 207 percent.
The United States is also the world’s largest producer and consumer of environmental technology goods and services. This industry has approximately 119,000 firms. It supports almost 1.7 million jobs and generates $300 billion in revenues -- including $43.8 billion in exports. Why take an axe to these industries?
Budgets are clear expressions of priorities. The House-passed Continuing Resolution forces communities to bear the burden of more pollution in our air and water. But the President’s budget makes tough choices in a thoughtful way that doesn’t sacrifice the huge strides our nation has made towards a clean and safe environment. Administrator Jackson, I look forward to your testimony on these issues today.