June 22nd, 2017
EPA Cuts Might Not Be as Deep as Planned
Earlier this week, my blog partner Ric Jackson urged everyone to listen to a recent hearing of the U.S. House of Representatives’ Appropriations Committee. In that session, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator Scott Pruitt faced some tough comments and questions about President Trump’s 2018 budget proposal for the agency, which reduces its funding by a whopping 31 percent.
Well, I took Ric up on his challenge, and I’m glad I did. It was an informative couple of hours, and it proves that getting things done in Washington is truly a bi-partisan challenge.
As you probably know, the administration’s 2018 budget plan for EPA calls for deep cuts and eliminates many programs, including Energy Star (which was barely mentioned at this hearing, so its fate remains up in the air).
Of course, Democrats on the committee vehemently opposed the reductions.
“This budget cut also includes cuts so deep that 47 programs are eliminated,” said Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.),the ranking minority member of the subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies. “Many are relied upon by industry. One example is Energy Star, which has saved customers an estimated $430 billion on their utility bills since 1992. Realtors, manufacturers, builders, retailers, they all want the EPA to continue this program.”
But it was Republicans who really made it clear that massive cuts to the EPA probably won’t happen this year.
“Administrator Pruitt, you have a tough job here today,” said Rep. Ken Calvert (R-Calif.), who added that all of President Trump’s proposed cuts to domestic spending — $54 billion total — put him in “an untenable, untenable position.”
Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), after congratulating fellow Oklahoman Pruitt on becoming EPA administrator, was equally direct.
“I can assure you, you’re going to be the first EPA administrator that’s come before this committee in eight years that actually gets more money than they asked for,” he said.
All of which echoes what Washington Examiner columnist Veronique de Rugy wrote about the budget in May when it was first unveiled: “The bottom line is that the good, the bad, and the terrible in this budget is going nowhere.”
Is she right? We should know more in the coming weeks. But it echoes what Michael O’Brien, the president and CEO of the Window and Door Manufacturers Association, told me recently for a big feature story I’ve written about Energy Star for our upcoming June/July issue.
“The administration budget as submitted to Congress has very little chance of passage,” he said.
As they say on TV, stay tuned …