The View From Here
by Ric Jackson
June 19th, 2017

Pruitt Testimony Emphasizes State-Level Responsibility for EPA Programs

Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Committee heard testimony from EPA administrator, Scott Pruitt, among other stakeholders on the FY2018 budget proposal that would cut funding for the agency by 30 percent and cut approximately 3,800 federal jobs. So many important issues were discussed, including how the proposed cuts will impact protecting waterways and pesticides control.

If you haven’t done so, I first encourage you to see the full webcast for yourself, even if you have it on in the background while you are doing other things. The cases made are eye-opening and truly get to the heart of what the funding cuts mean for Americans.

But today, I am going to avoid getting on a soap box other than to suggest watching and drawing your own conclusions. Appropriations committees from the House and Senate are expected to vote and have the final budget in place by end of June (which I’m told rarely actually happens). The point is, there is still time to make your opinions known to those who can still make a difference. The WDMA is also a great resource as they continue to do an excellent job of digging into issues that impact our businesses.

What I would like to address is the theme that rings loud and clear in the testimony that the burden of funding and management of many initiatives will fall to the states and private funding. On one hand, I am a strong proponent of transferring many programs to the state level where they are less vulnerable to federal funding cuts, including the LRRP Rule, which is not being managed well by the EPA. But there are other programs that could suffer much more deeply.

A State-Run Energy Star?

All of this has me thinking about Energy Star and other programs that cross state lines – and whether it is feasible for such a program to be transferred to the states.

I have considered what a state-run Energy Star might look like, and the challenges would be significant:

  • Would EPA transfer rights to labeling to each state?
  • Who would set target performance and how would they set those standards?
  • Who would ensure products meet those standards?

Assuming these questions and concerns could be resolved, there would be more cost in duplicating services in every participating state. I could see states like California and New York possibly coming up with their own programs, but it still would lack the recognition of a national program like Energy Star.

The View from Here is if states choose different performance requirements, it would fragment product requirements and create a burden for manufacturers that ship into multiple states. I cannot imagine how a program like Energy Star could be managed at the state level with its key benefits being universal recognition and trust by consumers.

What’s your View? Email me directly at eric.jackson@quanex.com.

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