Pallone & Tonko Urge Walden to Hold EPA Budget Hearing
Energy and Commerce Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) and Environment Subcommittee Ranking Member Paul Tonko (D-NY) sent a letter to Chairman Greg Walden (D-OR) and Environment Subcommittee Chairman John Shimkus (D-IL) today urging the Republican leaders to call Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt before the Committee to testify on the Trump Administration’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 budget proposal.
“Budget hearings have routinely been held by this Subcommittee, and provide an essential opportunity to question EPA leaders about the Agency’s priorities and plans,” Pallone and Tonko wrote to the Republican Committee leaders. “No such hearing was held last year, and no such hearing has yet been scheduled for this year. This lack of accountability, while entirely consistent for Administrator Pruitt, is unacceptable. You have an obligation, and the means, to compel him to appear before the Committee, and we request that you do so.”
President Trump’s FY 2019 budget calls for the elimination of important programs to fight lead exposure, prevent pollution, protect beaches, promote recycling, enforce environmental justice requirements, support sound infrastructure at the U.S.-Mexico border, address environmental issues in the Gulf of Mexico, and more. The Trump budget also proposes devastating cuts to vital programs including a 46 percent cut to clean air programs, a 48 percent cut to activities targeting leaking underground storage tanks, and a 35 percent cut to chemical safety research.
“The President is proposing these dramatic cuts threatening the health and environment of all Americans at a time when EPA is mired in a troubling pattern of secrecy and wasteful spending of taxpayer dollars,” Pallone and Tonko continued. “This budget proposal raises serious questions, and the public deserves answers.”
To date, Pruitt has publicly acknowledged lavish and frequent luxury travel and questionable public expenditures including a secure phone booth, biometric security locks, and an extraordinarily large and expensive round-the-clock security detail. Pallone and Tonko wrote that the Agency continues to operate with complete disregard for transparency, providing delayed and incomplete responses to Congressional oversight inquiries, taking down Agency websites and halting certain data collections from polluters.
In their letter, the two Committee Democratic leaders outlined a series of pressing questions that should be addressed by Administrator Pruitt during a budget hearing, including:
- How is the Administration going to launch a “war on lead” while slashing programs that prevent lead exposures?
- How will drastic enforcement cuts affect the already alarming drop in enforcement by the EPA since Administrator Pruitt joined the Agency?
- How will severe cuts in grants to states support “cooperative federalism?” How have those cuts been influenced by John Konkus, Deputy Associate Administrator for the Office of Public Affairs, or other political appointees currently engaged in outside work for unnamed clients?
A copy of the letter is available HERE.