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Simpson Scrutinizes EPA Budget Request, Questions Regulatory Agenda

Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson today critiqued Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa Jackson on the EPA's budget proposal for the coming fiscal year.  Simpson, who chairs the House Interior and Environmental Appropriations Subcommittee that has oversight over the EPA's budget, targeted the EPA’s regulatory agenda, taking issue with the way the agency analyses costs and benefits of proposed regulations and the impact that they have on the economy. 

Simpson started the hearing by reminding the subcommittee about the drastic change in the agency's budget since he became chairman of the subcommittee. “When we met last year in this room to discuss your 2012 proposal, I noted that we were at a critical juncture as we had not yet finished our work on the fiscal year 2011 budget,” said Simpson. “Since then the Appropriations Committee has had a productive year and passed spending bills for both fiscal year 2011 and 2012.  In doing so we reduced discretionary spending in the Interior and Environment bill by over $3 billion, of which $1.85 billion came from the EPA budget.  This amounts to an 18 percent cut to EPA's budget in one calendar year."

Simpson expressed long-standing concern about the guidance EPA issued last year regarding which waters are subject to EPA regulation under the Clean Water Act, an issue that has troubled Idaho’s farmers and water users for years.

“I’m concerned about this guidance because many of the groups advocating for it want EPA to control all the waters of the United States.  Many of us in the west think that the current ‘navigable waters’ definition is the right definition,” said Simpson.“It is not a matter of whether or not we should protect waters from degradation but of who is protecting them. I think that is a responsibility of the states.”

Simpson also expressed his continued concern that EPA is imposing an unnecessary regulatory agenda on the American people that is hurting the economy and surpassing the agency's authority.  Referring to a recent cover story in The Economist entitled, "Overregulated America,” he said, “Currently EPA has 26 regulations under review at OMB, including the Clean Water Act guidance that defines navigable waters. The one thing I came away from this article with is that I am concerned that EPA’s cost-benefit analysis is not public or transparent. The agency needs to keep this subcommittee informed about its regulatory agenda as we put the budget together.”