Jackson defends cuts, as fight looms over GHG funding

U.S. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson today defended the Obama administration's proposal to cut the agency's budget by about 3 percent, but some on Capitol Hill are questioning the proposed increases for climate change programs.

President Obama today recommended that EPA receive about $10 billion for fiscal 2011, a decline of $300 million from 2010 enacted levels.

"The president's 2011 budget is a responsible strategy," given the economic challenges facing the country, Jackson said. "There's no moving away from a commitment to a greener, more sustainable economy, and the work EPA does is the backbone of that."

Obama's budget proposal would trim EPA's operating budget, water infrastructure loan programs, Superfund cleanup and some other programs (Greenwire, Feb. 1).

A significant piece of the spending drop came from reductions to the Great Lakes restoration initiative, which would receive $300 million under Obama's proposal, a $175 million drop from fiscal 2010. That program -- aimed at cleaning up contaminated sediments and toxic chemicals and fending off invasive species -- still has money left over from last year's allocations, Jackson said.


Opponents criticize climate funding

Obama proposed $56 million -- including $43 million in new funding -- for EPA and states to curb greenhouse gas emissions through regulatory programs.

But congressional opponents of EPA climate regulations blasted the inclusion of funding for the agency's greenhouse gas regulations.

Rep. Earl Pomeroy (D-N.D.) said he will fight during the appropriations process to remove any funding that would go toward curbing the heat-trapping emissions. Pomeroy last month introduced a bill that would strip EPA of its authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions unless the agency was provided explicit authority to do so from Congress (E&E Daily, Jan. 8).

"At a time when our country is struggling with a deep economic recession, the last thing I want the EPA to do is start regulating greenhouse gases without specific direction from Congress," Pomeroy said in a statement. "I was deeply disappointed to see this budget proposal include $56 million for that purpose, and if I have anything to say about it, that's not going to fly here in Congress."

Pomeroy and several Republicans in the House and Senate have launched efforts recently to block EPA as the agency prepares to begin regulating greenhouse gases from automobiles as early as next month.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) is leading the Senate effort to limit EPA's regulatory authority. Murkowski has introduced a formal disapproval resolution that would veto EPA's "endangerment" finding for greenhouse gases, which sets the stage for regulations. Murkowski is expected to seek a vote on the resolution -- which would require 51 votes for passage -- next month.

"We shouldn't be going down this path to begin with," said Murkowski spokesman Robert Dillon when asked today about the president's proposed funding levels.

The specific funding levels proposed for EPA climate regulations are irrelevant, Dillon said, because "EPA shouldn't be regulating greenhouse gases; it's going to be a costly endeavor."

Reporter Sara Goodman contributed.

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