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EPA chief warns about budget cuts

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

EPA chief warns about budget cuts

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa P. Jackson told a Senate committee last week that a proposal to cut a third of the agency's budget would gut a plan to reduce carbon pollution under the Clean Air Act and undermine efforts to limit water pollution in areas such as the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

Jackson said House Republicans' plan to cut more than $3 billion from the EPA would have a major impact. "Big polluters would flout legal restrictions on dumping contaminants into the air, into rivers and onto the ground," she said. "There would be no EPA grant money to fix or replace broken water treatment systems. And the standards that EPA is set to establish for harmful air pollutants from smokestacks and tailpipes would remain missing."

The Republican proposal would significantly reduce a program to establish a more aggressive "pollution diet" to limit the nutrients that run off cities and farms into the rivers that flow into the Chesapeake.

"These cuts mean our drinking water has a far greater chance of contamination," said Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), chairwoman of the Committee on Environment and Public Works. "We are facing touch economic times, but tough times call for intelligent decision-making and wisdom, not reckless cuts that will do more harm than good."

Republicans said the EPA drafted plans to reduce carbon emissions in manufacturing without an analysis to determine possible job loss. Industries would cut employee rolls to pay for technology to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, they warned.

"Nobody here is saying let's not have clean water and clean air," Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) said. "But there has to be some common sense about the way we're going about this."

- Darryl Fears

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