“Minibus” Spending Bill Would Cut EPA Funding
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by Causes | 7.17.18
The FY2019 “minibus” spending bill currently before the House of Representatives would reduce funding to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The EPA’s budget peaked in 2010 at $10.3 billion, and has since fluctuated around the $8 billion mark. When President Donald Trump took office, he announced his intent to slash the EPA’s budget dramatically.
Last year, he attempted to cut the EPA’s budget by almost a third, requesting just $5.7 billion for fiscal year 2018, although his efforts were stymied by a continuing resolution.
The bill now before the House would allocate $7.958 billion in funding to the EPA, $100 million less than the prior year. Funding for its regulatory programs would be $228 million below the current level.
What it means
The bill would increase funding in several areas, including the following:
- The Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Funds, which states and localities use for water infrastructure projects. According to our partners at USAFacts, a non-partisan, not-for-profit civic initiative aimed at making government data accessible and understandable, water utilities’ net expenditures have declined precipitously since a peak in 2009.
- Accelerating cleanup of Superfund sites – which have been contaminated by hazardous waste and flagged for cleanup – to return them to productive use and spur economic development. As major hurricanes appear poised to continue battering U.S. coasts, they risk spreading contamination from Superfund sites, adding to cleanup urgency.
- The Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) program to leverage federal dollars to help finance more than $8 billion in water infrastructure projects. According to Water & Wastewater International:
“The US's drinking water and wastewater infrastructure is in deep trouble – the US Environmental Protection Agency estimates that at current levels of expenditure, the gap between actual and needed levels of investment in water infrastructure will be in excess of $300 billion over the next 20 years.”
The above initiatives are relatively uncontroversial among politicians. Following are the areas where the bill would make cuts:
- The EPA’s “Waters of the U.S.” rule, which aimed to expand the application of the Clean Water Act to seasonal ponds and irrigation ditches, would be fully repealed. Opponents say the rule subjected farmers, developers, and others to costly and time-intensive federal permitting for everyday activities like moving soil. Supporters say it is essential to preserving clean water, and would have clarified water boundaries without extending jurisdiction.
- The EPA would be prohibited from advancing regulations regarding lead content in ammunition and fishing tackle, and from making changes to certain agricultural exemptions under the Clean Water Act. Opponents characterize such restrictions as an “assault on gun owners’ and sportsmen’s rights,” while proponents of such bans say lead in bullets and tackle harm birds and fish populations.
- Livestock operations would be relieved from EPA permitting requirements and livestock producers would be exempt from greenhouse gas regulations. Global livestock production is responsible for 15 percent of all annual greenhouse gas emissions. The livestock industry considers the restrictions overly burdensome.
- Additionally, the bill would provide a directive to the EPA, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and U.S. Department of Energy to establish policies that reflect the carbon neutrality of biomass. While biomass is renewable, most scientists say it is not carbon neutral, and could in fact increase greenhouse gas emissions.
What do you think?
Do you support the “minibus” spending bill modifications to the EPA’s budget? Why or why not? Hit Take Action to tell your reps what you think, then share your thoughts below.
—Sara E. Murphy
(Photo Credit: iStock.com / PeopleImages)
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