Wicker: EPA’s Budget Leaves Out States, Communities

Miss. Senator Critical of Agency’s Plan to Increase Funds for Climate Change

March 26, 2014

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., today highlighted the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) misguided proposal to divert funding for states and communities to new climate change initiatives. Currently, EPA revolving loan funds help states and local communities comply with the agency’s growing number of clean air and water regulations.

Wicker’s comments were made during a Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing to evaluate the agency’s proposed budget.

“All across the federal government, agencies are making tough decisions to rein in the country’s spending,” Wicker said. “But I would rather help communities with safe drinking water and clean air than put funding of dubious value into carbon dioxide regulation in the name of climate change.”

EPA has proposed a $41 million spending increase for climate change programs. At the same time, the agency’s FY2015 budget proposes severe cuts to state assistance, which includes $430 million from the Clean Water Revolving Loan Fund, $150 million from the Drinking Water Revolving Fund, and $5 million from the Brownfields program.

“These are proven programs that are well-received by state and local communities and encourage EPA to work in a cooperative manner rather than a confrontational one,” Wicker continued. “Decreasing their support is especially troubling when you consider that some have estimated the amount needed to bring local water infrastructure into compliance with EPA regulations is over $2.5 trillion. We should be helping local communities rather than putting unfunded mandates on them.

“EPA often addresses out-of-compliance communities with subpoenas and civil action rather than grants and technical assistance. EPA’s enforcement actions may help achieve compliance, but when small and rural communities must funnel meager funds away from schools and hospitals, I question the efficacy of this approach.”