The League joined other environmental organizations on a letter sent to U.S. Senators encouraging them to support the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) funding at levels needed for the agency to carry out its core missions. The EPA implements and enforces environmental statutes like the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water act and repeated budget cuts over the last several years have begun to compromise the EPA's ability to enforce these laws and protect Americans.


 

Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski                             Ranking Member Richard Shelby
503 Hart Senate Office Building                          304 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510                                       Washington, DC 20510
   
Chairman Jack Reed                                            Ranking Member Lisa Murkowski
728 Hart Senate Office Building                          709 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510                                       Washington, DC 20510

May 28, 2013

Dear Senators,

On behalf of our millions of members and supporters, we are writing to you to support the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) funding at levels needed for the agency to carry out its core missions. The Congress has charged the EPA to protect human health and the environment by safeguarding the quality of our air and water, assuring the safety of chemicals, cleaning up hazardous substances in our communities, and reducing the threat of climate change.  However, repeated budget cuts over the past several years followed by sequestration have begun to severely compromise the ability of the EPA to enforce the law and protect Americans.

EPA implements and enforces numerous environmental statutes, such as the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Safe Drinking Water Act, Toxic Substances and Chemicals Act, and the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (commonly known as Superfund).  By enforcing these laws, we have seen substantial improvements in local and regional air and water quality and the cleanup of hazardous waste sites in communities across the country. These environmental protections have saved millions of lives, reduced cancer risks, prevented lead poisoning in children, and saved trillions in health and other costs for the American people. The Office of Management and Budget has consistently found that EPA rules deliver benefits that far outweigh their costs, and that the cost:benefit ratio of agency rules as a whole are among the highest of all federal agencies, delivering over $10 in benefits for each $1 in costs.

However, EPA’s successes are now being threatened by funding cuts.  EPA’s budget, which is only one quarter of one percent of total federal spending, has been cut by over 17% since 2010, with an additional 3.5% cut below FY ’13 levels proposed for 2014. These cuts have begun impacting EPA’s Office of Enforcement & Compliance Assurance, and are compromising the agency’s ability to effectively ensure compliance with existing law and regulations, and to pursue legal action against violators whose actions threaten the health and welfare of American citizens. The EPA’s FY’13 budget request notes that at the requested funding level, there would be significant reductions in the number and type of enforcement actions undertaken by the agency. And the President’s FY’14 budget request shows decreasing trends in the number of enforcement actions expected, with associated reductions in the quantity of pollution reductions achieved through its enforcement actions.

In addition to the impacts on EPA’s ability to enforce existing EPA regulations, we are also seeing budget cuts compromise EPA’s ability to effectively protect public health and the environment from existing pollution sources.  Recently, the EPA denied a petition to regulate a major source of methane pollution, citing in part a lack of necessary resources and staff due to budget cuts and sequestration to develop and finalize a rule in a timely manner.  This is an untenable position for the agency to be in, and bodes ill for prospects of timely development of other rules that are critically needed to address climate change and protect air and water quality.

Congress and the president need to work together to set a sustainable and balanced fiscal policy, but we can do this without sacrificing the health and welfare of our families on the altar of fiscal austerity. Our fiscal problems were not caused by EPA, and cutting EPA’s budget will not solve them. Please support sufficient funding for EPA.

Sincerely,

American Rivers
Center for Biological Diversity
Clean Water Action
Conservation Law Foundation
Environment America
Environmental Defense Fund
Friends of the Earth
Greenpeace
League of Conservation Voters
League of Women Voters
Natural Resources Defense Council
Sierra Club
US Climate Action Network
Union of Concerned Scientists

 

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