While Congress was debating President BidenJoe BidenGOP’s Rice said he regrets voting against Biden on Jan. 6. Fauci claims large holiday gatherings are not safe, even with booster Clyburn positive for COVID-19 breakthrough case.The now stalled Build back Better proposal kept the Environmental Protection Agency and the rest of federal government operating under a series agreement to continue funding at the previous years level. The innocuous name for this insidious mechanism is continuing resolution (CR), but it doesn’t do justice to the extent of the damage it is causing to EPA.
In this instance, a CR will maintain funding at the level that Trump’s administration negotiated last year. This was in response to Trump’s ongoing assault on EPAs ability and history of protecting our nation’s water, air, and land. Last year’s funding was the culmination long-standing efforts by the Trump administration to reduce the agency. The agency’s staff reached its lowest level since 1987 and EPA spent less than $27 million. HalfIn real dollars, it is the 1980 amount. It would be a disaster for the agency to continue such funding for a full calendar year.
The recent enactment of the ISA is a complicating factor Infrastructure Investment and Jobs ActProvides EPA with $60 billion in new financing over five years.This more than doubles EPA’s annual spending and dramatically expands its role as an environmental protection agency. The vast majority of funding goes to the states and there is no support available for rebuilding or restoring EPA.
This makes it more urgent for EPA that it receives an annual appropriation that will allow it to begin rebuilding and restoring the historic role it played in protecting our environment. Biden administration budget request aims for that. It also expands EPAs role to address the existential threat of climate changes and the toxic legacy from environmental injustice. EPA’s budget request for $2 billion in funding increases, which includes $110 Million For 1000 new EPA employeesTo rebuild EPA’s depleted staff, and to restore its ability to protect our nation’s air, land, and water.
The budget request prioritizes enforcement to address widespread serious environmental violations,und the disproportionate burdens that a handful of them carries The worst pollutersimpose new taxes on already-burdened and disadvantaged populations. The request for nearly $200 million is made to improve enforcement and compliance monitoring, environmental justice mapping, and upgrade a disgraceful national monitoring system that often overlooks serious air pollution issues. The new system will provide accurate and timely information to fence-line communities and front-line communities, as well as more effective and targeted enforcement.
The budget includes $60 million to boost a program to reduce diesel emission that is choking ports. It also includes $100 million in new funding for science and research, including $60 million to support climate work. It includes $125 million to help rebuild the agency. This money will be used to increase legal support, improve EPA operations and administration, as well as improve information management and technology. A CR would deny funding for each one of these urgent priorities and do little to rebuild or restore the agency.
Infrastructure bill provides $12 billion in new resources each year. However, almost all of that money will go to the states with only 3 percent going to EPA for administrative expenses. It is difficult to overstate the financial burdens of this unprecedented infusion of money. This amount is far greater than the $9.2 billion budget for last year’s agency.
This years EPA budget request for $800 million, which is an 18 percent increase in state grants programs, might be a good example. The EPA requests $20million and 80 full-time employees to manage and disburse additional funding. The new infrastructure funding is fifteen times more.
However, the budget request was for expansion of already-existing programs and may understate the resources required for the infrastructure act, especially for its $30 billion for what will essentially become new programs. The EPA will have more to do than just create new procedures, requirements, or staff, to disburse $6Billion per year. This is more than the total funding provided by all EPA grant programmes.
The largest new program will provide $3Billion per year to replace lead pipes or service lines that deliver water to the home. 10 million homes, as well as 400,000 Schools and daycare centers that serve 15 million to 22million people. Another program will spend $1B annually to replace school buses with low- or zero-emission ones
The most striking example of the resource needs of new programs is $2 billion per annum to address emerging contaminants, the noxious, ubiquitous plastic-based pollutants known as PFAS. EPAs Budget requestThis article outlines the requirements for a PFAS Program. It will require accelerated toxicity studies and research to support the regulatory step of identifying PFAS as hazardous substances, setting enforceable limits for PFAS in the Safe Drinking Water Act, and technical assistance grants to assist State and local governments with PFAS contamination. EPAs PFAS activities are supported only by $60 million for salaries, expenses, administration, and administrative costs.
The infrastructure act does NOT provide funding for rebuilding or restoring EPA. A CR, by definition, would not provide any new funding for rebuilding the agency, or for advancing the administration’s climate and justice priorities.EPA must have an appropriation to support the Biden agenda, not a funding resolution that supports the Trump agenda.
David F. Coursenis is a former EPA attorney who is a member of TheEnvironmental Protection Network, a non-profit organization made up of EPA alumni, working to preserve the agency’s progress towards climate, water and clean air.