House Subcommittee Moves EPA Funding Bill

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On Wednesday, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior and EPA passed the FY 18 funding measure for those programs by voice vote.  The still to be numbered bill would fund EPA at $7.5 billion, an increase of $1.9 billion over the Administration’s budget request.  During the hearing, Subcommittee Chair Ken Calvert R-CA) and Full Committee Chair Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ) both expressed appreciation for the Committee’s work to ensure that programs such as the Great Lakes Restoration initiative and the drinking water and clean water SRFs are reasonably funded while somewhat reining in the bureaucracy.  Subcommittee Ranking Minority Member Betty McCollum (D-MN) expressed dismay that EPA funding was still well below levels needed to protect public health and the environment, a sentiment echoed by Full Committee Ranking Member Nita Lowey (D-NJ).  McCollum and Lowey both said that Democrats would not support the bill.

While overall funding is higher than recommended by the Administration, each of the Agency’s principal program accounts include rescissions (subtractions) from the stated appropriation level.  None of the rescission language specifies how the money is to be subtracted.  Below are details of interest to state drinking water programs.

Science & Technology Program Account:  $629,238,000 ($27 million to be rescinded).

Environmental Programs & Management Program Account:  $2,399,840,000 ($36 million to be rescinded).

State & Tribal Assistance Grant (STAG) Program Account:  $3,288,161,000 ($60 million to be rescinded).  Within this account, the DWSRF is slated to receive $862,233,000 and the CWSRF would be funded at $1,143,887,000.  PWSS grant funding levels are not identified in the bill language but will be included in Report language that will accompany the bill.

WIFIA:  $25 million with an additional $5 million for EPA administrative expenses.  WIFIA does not appear to have a rescission amount.

As approved by the Subcommittee, the bill also would allow states, at their discretion, to use DWSRF funding for green infrastructure and other environmentally innovative activities.

The next step in the House funding process is for the full Appropriations Committee to take up the measure, amend it as warranted, pass it and send it to the Senate.  Timing, however, is very tight to achieve the end goal of having the funding bills passed by September 30th.  ASDWA will continue to follow this issue and share the latest information as it becomes available.