EPA Administrator Testifies on Both Sides of the Hill

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy spent Wednesday morning testifying about the Agency’s FY 15 budget proposal before the Senate Environment & Public Works (EPW) Committee and Thursday morning sharing similar testimony with the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior and the Environment.  Although the Administrator’s testimony focused exclusively on proposed funding for various Agency programs, members of the Senate and House had different agendas in mind.
Both Democrats and Republicans on the Senate Committee were much more focused on other issues.  Democrats were keenly interested in climate change and related Clean Air Act issues, but not specifically those described in the Agency’s FY 15 budget request.  Republicans were consumed with the “who-knew-what-when” aspects of the former  senior Agency employee John Beale’s “tainted” decisionmaking and alleged CIA activities.  Senators Boxer (D-CA) and Whitehouse (D-RI) did express concern with decreased funding for both the Drinking Water and Clean Water SRF programs but did not call for restoring the funding levels.  Senators Wicker (R-MS) and Sessions (R-AL) also took the Agency to task for cutting funds for “proven programs with demonstrable benefits” such as the SRFs and Brownfields programs and cautioned that expecting Congress to restore those funds is not a reliable approach to funding a budget.
The House Appropriations Subcommittee heard from Administrator McCarthy on Thursday morning.  Again, while she spoke about the FY 15 budget request, members on both sides of the aisle were much more interested in the recent “Waters of the United States” decision and spent most of the hearing discussing that topic.  Several members did ask about projects and issues specific to their districts – renewable fuel standards, biomass, solid waste and composting, and oil and gas issues – but none highlighted concerns with either the PWSS program or the DWSRF funding levels.
You can view recordings of the hearings and read Administrator McCarthy’s testimony on the web.  For the Senate EPA hearing, go to www.epw.senate.gov/ and click the “3/26” link under Previous Events on the Committee’s homepage.  Administrator McCarthy’s testimony and Senator Boxer’s opening statement are both available there.  House Subcommittee proceedings are available at www.appropriations.house.gov/.  Click on “hearings” under the Committee Actions tab to view the hearing.