Congress's Latest Assault on the EPA
by Ronald White, 7/14/2014
On July 9, Rep. Sam Graves (R-MO) introduced H.R. 5034, the Stop the EPA Act of 2014. Incorporating the worst aspects of previous attempts to undermine the ability of federal agencies to address needed public protections, this bill would require a joint resolution of congressional approval for any standard developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with an estimated economic impact of more than $50 million. It also would halt implementation of all existing major EPA rules that were not submitted to Congress, along with detailed benefit-cost analyses, for approval within six months of adoption of the bill. This would essentially slam the brakes on EPA’s efforts to develop new rules while it complied with the bill's mandates, hampering the agency's ability to protect Americans from emerging threats and hazards.
The bill is just the latest chapter in what has become a never-ending effort by anti-regulatory members of Congress to politicize and demonize efforts by the EPA to address needed safeguards that address essential public health and environmental issues such as climate change and protecting the country's air and water quality.
The same day the Graves bill was introduced, the House Appropriations Subcommittee for Interior, Environment and Related Agencies passed a budget for fiscal year 2015 that included a nine percent cut in the EPA’s overall budget. EPA’s budget has already suffered significant cuts over the past several years when adjusted to 2012 dollars, so this latest attempt to hamper EPA’s ability to function as an effective agency adds insult to injury. Accompanying the funding cut were 23 legislative riders and funding limits that that would undermine environmental laws, threaten public health and safety, and deny the impact of greenhouse gases on climate change. These include removing EPA’s authority to regulate greenhouse gases as well as clarifying the “waters of the U.S.” rule that addresses protection of our nation’s lakes, rivers, and streams.
While neither the Graves legislation nor the House subcommittee appropriations bill is likely to pass the Senate as drafted, they signal the need for vigilance on efforts to undermine EPA’s ability to fulfill its congressionally created mission to protect public health and the environment.