WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works held a hearing with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Michael Regan on EPA’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2023.
Below is the opening statement of Chairman Tom Carper (D-Del.), as prepared for delivery:
“Today, we are pleased to welcome Administrator Regan back before our committee to discuss President Biden’s fiscal year 2023 budget proposal for the Environmental Protection Agency.
“So why do presidential administrations go through the trouble of putting out a budget every year? Budgets are forward-looking documents. They are an opportunity for presidents to describe their priorities and lay out a vision for the American people.
“Last week, the Biden Administration released its first full federal budget proposal, and it’s clear that this administration’s priorities are aligned with the needs of the American people and the immense challenges we all face.
“This week, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a new comprehensive scientific report with dire warnings regarding the urgent need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The President’s budget calls for historic investments to address the climate crisis while ensuring that the benefits from doing so reach our most disadvantaged communities. The proposal also builds on this committee’s work last year to rebuild our nation’s aging infrastructure — a groundbreaking investment in greenhouse gas emission reduction, climate resilience, and job creation.
“In short, the combination of this budget and our infrastructure efforts shows we can do good and do well at the same time.
“It’s no secret that Congress has not always provided the EPA with the resources it needs to successfully execute its mission. In recent years — at least until the past year — flat budgets provided by Congress have undermined the agency’s ability to do its job. Still, we have been able to avoid the catastrophic harm that the previous administration’s budget proposals would have inflicted.
“Instead of slashing the agency’s budget more than 30 percent as President Trump’s first budget proposed to do, President Biden’s first full budget proposal would increase EPA’s budget by roughly 24 percent in fiscal year 2023. This increase in funding is vital to rebuilding the agency’s capacity after four years of neglect and failed leadership.
“In addition to helping EPA rebuild its workforce, which have fallen by about 1,000 since fiscal year 2016, I am also pleased that the President’s budget includes funding to help our nation rebuild as well. Specifically, I was happy to see the request to fully fund our committee’s bipartisan legislation, the Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Act of 2021.
“While our bill became the foundation of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the final legislation only funded the State Revolving Loan Fund provisions.
“With this budget, President Biden has prioritized the drinking water and wastewater grant programs that are essential to addressing a variety of water infrastructure needs, especially those of small, disadvantaged, Tribal, and Alaska Native communities.
“In fact, the budget calls for addressing a host of critical environmental justice community needs by investing $1.5 billion in clean air, water, environmental cleanup, and other grant programs.
“These investments would make good on President Biden’s Justice40 initiative and ensure that all communities, including those who have been overlooked historically, receive their fair share of federal assistance from EPA.
“As co-founder of the Senate Environmental Justice Caucus with Senators Duckworth and Booker, I am particularly grateful that this budget focuses on the needs of our most vulnerable — communities of color, as well as low-income and Tribal communities — something I know you, Administrator Regan, have prioritized at EPA.
“The budget also makes a significant investment in combatting climate change.
“Particularly at a time when Americans are feeling the impact of climate change and the downside of our over-reliance on fossil fuels, I am encouraged to see the administration treat the ever-growing threat of the climate crisis with the urgency it deserves.
“After years of cuts, the President’s budget proposes $705 million for EPA’s clean air and climate programs — a 60 percent increase from fiscal year 2022. These climate and clean air investments, including funding for the American Innovation and Manufacturing Act and Diesel Emission Reduction Act, would not only drive down emissions and energy costs but would also help grow our economy by supporting American-made products and technologies.
“Additionally, this budget would further empower EPA’s efforts to regulate methane and other greenhouse gas emissions as mandated under the Clean Air Act by providing the agency with the financial support it needs to do so.
“When it comes to leaving behind a livable planet for future generations, I strongly believe that recycling is an important tool for improving sustainability and creating economic opportunity. To that end, I was pleased to see that the President’s budget will continue to prioritize investments in recycling infrastructure and other waste management initiatives at EPA. It is my hope that these addition funds will help implement EPA’s new national recycling strategy, which the agency crafted reflecting recommendations made by our committee members.
“The President’s budget also acknowledges the need to address the pervasive threat that harmful toxics pose to our lives.
“With that in mind, I appreciate the long-overdue request for the funds needed to implement the Toxic Substances Control Act — better known around here as TSCA. Many of us recall the extraordinary bipartisan effort led by Senators Inhofe, Vitter, Udall, and other members of this committee to reform TSCA. The President asks for a nearly $125 million increase to implement TSCA the way we intended when we passed the Lautenberg-Vitter Act six years ago — an investment we should all endorse.
“And finally, I tip my hat to you, Administrator Regan, and the hardworking experts at EPA for biting the bullet and articulating a specific, robust, and comprehensive roadmap to deal with the host of problems PFAS chemicals create. This is an issue that our ranking member, Senator Capito, and I care about deeply. And as with TSCA, implementing the PFAS roadmap will require a significant investment to keep these forever chemicals out of our air, our water, our land, our lives.
“I assure you that we will work with you to ensure that the relevant program offices have the resources they need to address this threat with the urgency and speed our health and our children’s wellbeing demand.
“Let me close by saying that I believe the President’s budget represents a brighter vision of the future of our nation — one that delivers on the promise of clean air and water in every zip code, and ensures that every American has an opportunity to live up to their potential.
“Administrator Regan, I think we are heading in that direction under your leadership at EPA and we look forward to hearing your testimony today.”