Potential Sequestration Threatens USEPA Funding

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Potential Sequestration Threatens USEPA Funding

In a letter dated February 6, 2013, Lisa P. Jackson, administrator of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA), highlights immediate impacts of the potential sequestration to programs, people, and services to Senate Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Barbara A, Mikulski.  In addition to cuts in Air, Tribal, and Research and Development Programs, the reduction of funding would impact the following:

Enforcement and Compliance Programs

  • Reduce Agency’s ability to monitor compliance with environmental laws and limit its capacity to identify toxic air emissions, water discharges, and other sources of pollution. Anticipated 1,000 fewer inspections in FY 2013.
  • Reduce support for National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) environmental reviews and could slow approval of transportation and energy-related projects.
  • Cut work to press responsible parties to cleanup contaminated sites in communities and restore Superfund cleanup funds for use at other sites.  Estimated $100 million loss in cleanup commitments and cost reimbursements to the government.

Water Programs

  • Deprive communities from access to funding to build or repair decaying water and wastewater infrastructure that provides safe drinking water and removes and treats sewage by cuts to Clean and Drinking Water State Revolving Fund Program (SRFs).
  • Impact states’ ability to meet drinking water public health standards by cutting Water Program State Implementation Grants.  More than 100 water quality protection and restoration projects would be eliminated throughout the US.
  • Limit assistance provided to states and tribes by Agency’s Water Program to ensure safe and clean drinking water, including protecting children from exposure to lead in drinking water, protecting rivers and streams from industrial and municipal pollution discharges, identifying and developing cleanup plans for polluted waterways, and developing science to support human health and aquatic life.
  • Reduce funding available to enhance resiliency and reduce flood damage risk and vulnerability at treatment works in communities impacted by Superstorm Sandy.

Community Protection

  • Unable to fund an estimated 3-5 new construction projects to protect the American public at Superfund National Priority List sites.  May have to stop work at one or more ongoing Superfund Remedial construction projects which would increase costs in the long run (contract termination penalties and demobilize/remobilize construction contractors).
  • Limit Agency’s ability to provide cleanup, job training, and technical assistance to brownfield communities by cutting funding to Brownfields program, which leverages nearly $17 of private and public sector funding for every dollar expended by the program.
  • Reduce Risk Management Plan (RMP) program inspection and prevention activities. High-risk and non high-risk RMP facility inspections would be reduced by approximately 26 inspections per year, 8 of which would be from high-risk facilities.
  • Reduce protection of US waters from oil spills by reducing inspection and prevention activities by cuttign funding to Oil Spill program.  Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasure (SPCC)/Facility Response Plan (FRP) inspections would be reduced by approximately 37 inspections in FY 2013 and the development of a third-party audit program from SPCC facilities would be limited, leading to a decrease in compliance with environmental and health regulations.

USEPA/State Cleanup and Waste Program

  • Reduce site assessments by cutting State cleanup program funding.
  • Complete nearly 290 fewer cleanups at contaminated sites, limiting further reductions to the backlog of sites awaiting cleanup, by cuts to Leaking Underground Storage Tank (LUST) state grants.  Reduce number of sites and acres ready for reuse or continued use, and therefore, fewer communities would receive the redevelopment benefit of cleaning up LUST sites.
  • Complete approximately 2,600 fewer inspections due to cuts in State grants, and  limit the States’ ability to meet the statutory mandatory 3-year inspection requirement.  May lead to a decline in compliance rates and result in more UST releases.
  • Loss of State jobs because 75% of State cleanup grants and 80% of State prevention grants support State staff.
  • Reduce the ability to find new Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) 128(a) State and tribal response program Brownfields categorical grantees without further reducing the allocations of existing grantees. Decrease the number of properties that could be overseen by Voluntary Cleanup Programs by nearly 600.
  • Delay work on a three-year project to develop a fee-based system for managing hazardous waste transport (e-Manifest) that would produce the estimated $77 to $126 million in annual projected savings to industry and the States.
  • Reduce funding for maintenance to the only national system for tracking State and Federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) permitting and corrective action.  RCRA Info is vital to the US economy since it enables States to prioritize and implement their hazardous waste programs by tracking facility activities regarding the handling of hazardous waste (generators, or treatment, storage, or disposal [TSD] facilities).

To view the entire letter, click here.

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