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EPA Acting Administrator Bob Perciasepe, Testimony Before the House Appropriations Committee

Release Date: 05/08/2013
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WASHINGTON -- As prepared for delivery.

Chairman Simpson, Ranking Member Moran, and members of the Committee, thank you for the opportunity to appear before you to discuss the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed Fiscal Year 2014 budget.

The President’s Fiscal Year 2014 Budget demonstrates that we can make critical investments to strengthen the middle class, create jobs, and grow the economy while continuing to cut the deficit in a balanced way. EPA's budget request of $8.153 billion for the 2014 fiscal year reflects our ongoing efforts to change the way EPA does business –to invest in more efficient ways for the Agency to operate, to further reduce costs wherever possible all while we preserve and enhance our ability to carry out the Agency’s core mission to protect human health and the environment.

It is the product of long discussions and difficult choices. In the end, we believe this budget will enable us to work toward the Agency’s goals as effectively and efficiently as possible.

Let me run through just a few highlights from the President’s FY 2014 budget request.

Despite the fiscal challenges we face, supporting our state and tribal partners, the primary implementers of environmental programs, remains a priority of the EPA. Funding for states and tribes through the State and Tribal Assistance Grants – or STAG – account is once again the largest percentage of the EPA's budget request – at nearly 40 percent in FY 2014.

We have requested a $60 million investment in a new project – what we call “E-Enterprise” – that would enable businesses to conduct environmental business transactions with regulators electronically through a single interactive portal. The paperwork and regulatory reporting burden would be reduced thanks to more efficient collection, reporting, and use of data, in addition to regulatory revisions to eliminate redundant or obsolete information requests. The initiative will encourage greater transparency and compliance, and the result will be widespread savings – for industry, for the states and tribes.

The FY 2014 request also includes $176.5 million to support the agency’s work with partners and stakeholders to address greenhouse gas emissions and their impacts. These funds will help reduce emissions through careful, cost-effective rulemaking and incentive based and cost effective programs.

Some of this funding will support existing, successful approaches like ENERGY STAR, the Global Methane Initiative, the GHG Reporting program, Smart Way and others. $20 million will go towards research, so we can better understand the impacts of climate change on human health and vulnerable ecosystems.

Nutrient pollution in our waterways is one of the nation’s most widespread and challenging environmental problems. To assist in tackling this challenge, EPA is requesting an increase of $15 million in Clean Water Act grant funding to support states, interstate agencies and tribes that commit to strengthening their nutrient management efforts.

Ensuring that federal dollars provided through the State Revolving Funds support effective and efficient system-wide planning remains a priority for EPA. The FY 2014 budget request includes $1.1 billion for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund and $817 million for the Drinking Water SRF. This money will also assist EPA efforts to expand and institutionalize the use of up-front planning that considers a full range of infrastructure alternatives like “green” infrastructure, so that the right investments are made at the right time, and at the lowest life-cycle cost.

In FY 2014, the agency is requesting over $1.34 billion for its land cleanup programs to continue to apply the most effective approaches to preserve and restore our country’s land. This money will go towards developing and implementing prevention programs, improving response capabilities, and maximizing the effectiveness of response and cleanup actions. The agency is also renewing its request to reinstate the Superfund tax in order to provide a stable, dedicated source of revenue for the Superfund Trust Fund.

Ensuring the safety of new or existing chemicals in commerce to protect the American people is another top priority. Chemicals are used in the production of everything from our homes and cars to the cell phones we carry and the food we eat. The $686.2 million requested in FY 2014 will allow EPA to continue managing the potential risks of new chemicals entering commerce, without impacting progress in assessing and ensuring the safety of existing chemicals.

Finally, let me discuss some steps we are taking to ensure taxpayer dollars are going as far as they possibly can.

The budget includes $54 million in savings by eliminating several EPA programs that have either completed their goals or can be implemented through other federal or state efforts. Adding to these savings and demonstrating a willingness to make tough choices, more than 20 EPA programs, are being reduced by 10 percent or more in FY 2014.

We continue to look for opportunities to consolidate physical space and reduce operating costs at our facilities nationwide. On-going improvements in operating efficiency, combined with the use of advanced technologies and energy sources, have reduced energy utilization and saved nearly $6 million annually.

Mr. Chairman, thank you for the opportunity to testify today. I look forward answering your questions.