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Senate Appropriations Subcommittee Considers EPA Budget

On April 29th, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies held a hearing on the 2016 EPA Budget.  Administrator Gina McCarthy and acting Chief Financial Officer David Bloom were the panelists, although all questions were directed to Ms. McCarthy.  The focus of the hearing was the FY16 budget proposal from EPA.  In reality, the main topics of discussion were the Clean Power Plan, EPA’s pending rule to address carbon emissions from power plants, and the proposed regulations to clarify the jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act.  In her opening statement, Chair Murkowski (R-AK) pointed out that proposed increases to EPA’s budget were beyond the mandated limits that Congress must adhere to.  This year’s budget request is $8.6 billion – about $500 million more than enacted for FY 15.
There was only occasional mention of drinking water issues, mostly related to the SRFs.  Senator Reed (D-RI) stressed the need for rebuilding water infrastructure but questioned why the Drinking Water SRF request ($1,186 billion) was greater than the $1.116 billion requested for the Clean Water SRF.  Historically, the CWSRF has been funded at levels averaging about $1.3 billion annually, while the DWSRF funding has been less – ranging between $870 and $900 million.  McCarthy responded by stating that the Agency looked at the documented needs in both programs and found that the long term drinking water need ($348 billion) was more than the clean water estimate ($298 billion).