House Appropriations Bill Undermines EPA Mission to Protect Environment and Health

The House Appropriations Committee is considering a bill to fund Interior, Environment and Related Agencies for Fiscal Year (FY) 2014 that would severely curtail the EPA’s ability to fulfill our mission to protect the environment and the health of the American people.

The House bill reduces EPA’s current funding by $2.4 billion or 30 percent from post-sequester 2013 funding levels.  This would represent the lowest EPA budget level since FY 1990.   By contrast, the Senate’s draft bill funds EPA at $8.5 billion, which is more consistent with the President’s FY 2014 proposed funding level.

Over 50 percent of the House reduction is to State and Tribal Assistance Grants (STAG) funding provided directly to our State, local, and tribal partners, including a $1.6 billion reduction to funding for repairs and improvements to the nation’s aging water infrastructure.  These reductions will likely force States and tribes to cut jobs they directly fund, as well as reduce planned construction and future job opportunities in local communities.

The House cuts would also reduce funds that support our work to protect air, water and land, enforcement of the laws that prevent pollution, efforts to ensure the chemicals in the products you use are safe, and scientific research to find the best and most cost effective solutions.  Under the House proposal, asthma rates in children would rise and excess nutrients in lakes, rivers and along the coast would cause fish to die off.

The House bill also includes 21 legislative riders, including a prohibition to work on a key provision in the President’s plan to address climate change. Ignoring the impacts of a warming planet – rising sea levels, drought, wildfires, heat waves – have and will continue to have serious economic repercussions.  Other provisions in this bill will hamper EPA’s ability to provide information that industry or communities need to reduce the costs of adapting to climate change over the long term.

The House bill would turn back EPA progress protecting human health and the environment by almost a quarter century.  The American public deserves better.  We need to preserve our hard-won gains and ensure continued progress, as well as be prepared to address new challenges on the horizon.

Maryann Froehlich is EPA’s Acting Chief Financial Officer, overseeing the Agency’s budget, financial services and financial management. She has over thirty years to Federal public service, working at the Federal Aviation Administration and the U. S. Coast Guard’s Marine Environmental Protection Program before joining the EPA. Ms. Froehlich received a B.S. in mathematics and physics from Chestnut Hill College, and an MPA from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.