US House Slashes Powers of the EPA

Join the Community Conversation as the Human Impacts Institute addressed the latest environmental issues: If given the choice, where would you allocate your tax dollars?


With so many different aspects of life today adding up to overwhelming amounts of carbon emissions, it is important to have a government that seeks to protect us and our world from their harmful effects. In America, the Environmental Protection Agencyis a national department dedicated to keeping our air, water, and environment clean, and has recently launched a campaign to combat climate change within these responsibilities. However, Republican legislators in the House of Representatives have set out to prevent the EPA from completing its mission, and have recently hit the department where it hurts… the budget.

In the 259-page proposal for government funding through September, 2011, known asH.R. 1 of the 112th Congress, large spending reductions have been made in most agencies in an attempt to control the ever-growing national deficit. In all, the House’s bill calls for over $60 billion in cuts- over $99 billion less than President Obama’s administration had proposed. While it is important to reduce our nation’s spending to sustainable levels, House Republicans have harshly targeted the EPA’s budget, and are immodestly reducing the agency’s abilities to keep our people and environment healthy. H.R. 1 has proposed a 29% reduction in the EPA’s operational budget, withholding over $3 billion by slashing important projects such as the Weatherization Assistance Program that aids low-income families in making their homes more energy-efficient.

Even graver propositions can be found in the bill’s amendments- proposed and passed by legislators in the last hours of the process. The most threatening is Amendment No. 466, introduced by Rep. Poe of Texas, which outright bans the EPA from regulating specific greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The agency’s regulation of human-produced toxins such as carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide was legalized by the Clean Air Act of 1970 and upheld recently in a monumental Supreme Court decision, but is prevented by the House’s new budget tactic. Further passed amendments ban available funding for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the NOAA National Climate Service, and a State Department envoy for Climate Change.

These potential cuts in the EPA budget and capacity are devastating, not only to mitigating climate change, but to the health of our communities. Through their voting on these measures, House Republicans (and a few Democrats, including Reps. Cardoza D-CA, Holden D-PA, and Peterson D-MN) are directly blocking sustainable development in the United States.

Luckily, the House’s appropriations bill is not yet enacted into law, and it must pass in the Senate and obtain a signature from the President before these measures can become effective. That means there is still time for YOU to have your voice heard on these issues, and to urge your government representatives to strengthen the EPA’s protective forces in the U.S. Go here to find out how to contact your Senator, and tell them that you want the EPA to retain funding and regulatory powers to ensure the safety of our environment and communities.

by Kate Offerdahl, 2011 Human Impacts Institute Environmental Leadership Intern

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