FY 2013 EPA Budget Hearing
March 22, 2012
I would like to begin by welcoming Administrator Jackson to this oversight hearing on the 2013 budget for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
EPA is charged with implementing critical public health and environmental protections, including programs that address clean air, children's health, safe drinking water, and water quality in America's lakes and rivers.
EPA's mission is to protect public health -- including children and families in communities across our country. The Agency was established with bipartisan support, and it has demonstrated repeated success at improving our families' health by keeping the nation's air and water clean and safe.
The President's budget makes tough choices but maintains a strong commitment to EPA's mission. While I do not agree with all of the cuts proposed, I respect the President's effort to maintain vital health protections and responsibly cut the deficit.
For example, the President's budget would make investments in enforcing our nation's public health laws, including assisting state and local efforts to reduce dangerous air pollution.
The budget also maintains a strong commitment to protecting children by requesting a 46 percent increase in funding for the Office of Children's Health.
The budget proposes reductions in the Clean Water and Safe Drinking Water Revolving Loan programs. In recent years, Congress and the Administration have supported significant investments in clean water and drinking water infrastructure, and I believe we can't stop now.
Recent studies highlight the need to maintain robust funding for these infrastructure programs. The American Water Works Association estimates that drinking water systems will require at least $1 trillion over the next 25 years, and the American Society of Civil Engineers anticipates a water and wastewater infrastructure funding gap of $126 billion by 2020.
I'm also very concerned about a proposal to phase out EPA's Beach Protection grant program. This small but important investment helps states to monitor water quality at public beaches and protect the public from sickness caused by water pollution.
The budget asks to eliminate $8 million for state and tribal programs that reduce health threats caused by radon, as well as to end funding for EPA's regional work to reduce the risk of radon exposure. According to the EPA, this radioactive gas is the nation's second leading cause of lung cancer, and I am concerned about these proposed budget cuts -- given the continuing need to address the serious health threats posed by radon.
As we examine EPA's budget, we must keep in mind the positive impact of EPA's work for both public health and our economy.
As I often say, if you can't breathe, you can't work.
The economic benefits of EPA's work are clear. The Clean Air Act provides $30 in benefits for every $1 invested and was responsible for preventing 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.
EPA's programs have also helped foster a significant and growing clean technology industry. The United States is the world's largest producer and consumer of environmental technology goods and services. This industry has approximately 119,000 firms, supports almost 1.7 million jobs, and generates $300 billion in revenues -- including $43.8 billion in exports.
These programs provide clear health and economic benefits for America. That is why the American public strongly supports EPA's efforts. A new bipartisan poll released yesterday by the American Lung Association finds that approximately two-thirds of voters favor EPA's efforts to set stricter air pollution standards, and a 2-to-1 majority believe that strengthening safeguards against pollution will encourage innovation and create jobs.
I stand with the American people and, as Chairman of the EPW Committee, will fight any efforts to undermine the Agency's work.
The President's budget makes tough choices, but it maintains a long-standing commitment to provide clean air, protect safe drinking water, and safeguard the health of our children and families.
Administrator Jackson, I look forward to your testimony on these issues today.