House Subcommittee Holds Hearing on FY 2024 Budget Request for EPA
On March 28, 2023, the House Appropriations Subcommittee for Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies held a hearing on the fiscal year (FY) 2024 budget request for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). EPA Administrator Michael Regan was the Committee’s only witness. As reported in our March 14, 2023, blog item, according to EPA’s March 9, 2023, press release, President Biden’s budget requests over $12 billion in discretionary budget authority for EPA in FY 2024, a $1.9 billion or 19 percent increase from the FY 2023 enacted level. The hearing included discussion of pesticides, the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), and per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).
According to Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Ranking Member of the Appropriations Committee, Republicans want to go back to FY 2022 funding levels, and she asked Regan what the effect of that would be. Regan noted that EPA has been struggling with the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and now finds itself being put on deadlines by the courts. While pesticides and herbicides are being taken off the market, EPA needs to replace them. Regan stated that to register new pesticides and herbicides, EPA has to have the workforce to do that. Returning to FY 2022 funding would set back the agricultural community. Without funding, EPA will not be able to meet the deadlines set under the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act (Lautenberg Act). According to Regan, FY 2022 funding would also mean about a $100 million reduction in its PFAS work.
Mike Simpson (R-ID), Subcommittee Chair, noted the $100 billion in supplemental funding that EPA received in 2022 and asked about the hiring that will occur with that money, which is separate from the President’s budget request. Regan stated that the resources from the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) and the bipartisan infrastructure law will expire and that many of the positions that EPA is hiring to implement those laws are term limited. Regan noted that there are many “bread and butter” issues that are not IRA and bill related, including emergency response, TSCA, pesticides, and enforcement actions, and the supplemental budget request is trying to ensure that the mission-critical issues that EPA is required by law to put in place can be sustained. Because of the ESA, products are being removed from the shelves, and EPA needs to be greenlighting new products so that farmers have replacement tools. EPA is trying to catch up to the deadlines included in the Lautenberg Act to address asbestos and other chemical compounds.
Representative Chellie Pingree (D-ME) described how PFAS has contaminated agricultural land in Maine and asked Regan to provide an update on how EPA is looking at PFAS contamination in the soil. Regan stated that he assured Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack that EPA would look at using its enforcement discretion to keep the focus on the polluters, not the agricultural community and not water utilities. According to Regan, there are innovative ideas in different communities, and EPA is having conversations to see what the best management practices are.
As reported in our March 23, 2023, memorandum, last week the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works held a hearing on EPA’s FY 2024 budget proposal. Once again, this hearing held no surprises. Republicans pressed Regan on why EPA needs additional funding, over its increase in FY 2023, while Regan reviewed EPA’s obligations under various statutes, including the ESA and TSCA.