12:45 PM EDT

Frank Pallone Jr., D-NJ 6th

Mr. PALLONE. Mr. Chairman, I have great respect for the chairman of the subcommittee, but the reality is that if we do not provide enough money to keep these Federal enforcement officers in place and they have to be laid [Page: H4754]

off, then, in effect, this is a cut and it means we cannot enforce the law. That is what we face here today.

We saw the same thing in New Jersey. The current EPA administrator used to be our governor in New Jersey. When she was governor, she cut back on the amount of money for the personnel, for the people that go out and do the inspections, for the people that conduct the criminal investigations against the polluters; and the consequence was that in New Jersey the environmental laws were not enforced. That is what is going to happen here again with this budget unless the Menendez amendment passes today.

It is a very insidious thing. People do not pay a lot of attention to enforcement. They pay attention to when the Clean Air Act or the Clean Water Act is weakened. But when an attempt is made to weaken the enforcement by not providing the personnel, the public does not notice. But it is more damaging, and I would suggest what is happening in this budget and the laying off these enforcement personnel will be more damaging to the environment than almost anything else the Republican leadership or

the President has proposed since he came to office. So we must speak out against it.

I want to give an example how it also impacts the taxpayer. New Jersey has more Superfund sites than any other State. My district has more than any other district in New Jersey. When we cut back on the inspections for Superfund and we do not go after the polluters, then we do not get the money from the polluters to clean up the Superfund sites and then we have to spend the money out of the Superfund, which is taxpayers' money.

And my colleagues on the other side know that, in the case of the Superfund, we do not even have the tax in place on the chemical and oil polluting companies to pay for the Superfund. The money increasingly is coming out of the general funds, which means income taxes.

So the consequence of this is not only that we weaken the environmental laws but also that we put more of a burden on the taxpayer rather than on the polluters these inspectors go out and find and go out and enforce to clean up their act.

What is happening here is very insidious. I am sure this is only going to be the beginning. We will see the same thing next year with the President's budget. We have to put a stop to it. Pass the Menendez amendment.

12:48 PM EDT

David R. Obey, D-WI 7th

Mr. OBEY. Mr. Chairman, I rise to strongly support this amendment. This amendment, very simply, restores 270 positions that are being cut by the Bush administration, positions that are needed to enforce our environmental laws.

I think the cutbacks that the administration is providing are consistent with what I regard as its generally misguided policy on environmental cleanup. I think the cutbacks they are trying to achieve in EPA enforcement are similar to the weakening of our attack on environmental problems that we see by their walking away from our obligation to try to work out an international treaty on global warming, for instance.

I think that their efforts to cut back on EPA enforcement are consistent with the White House efforts to reverse the new, more stringent standards for air-conditioning efficiency, a standard which the Clinton administration tried to implement and which would have saved us billions of dollars in energy costs if the White House had not walked away from those new standards.

If we take a look generally across the board at what the administration tried to do to shred the New Lands Legacy Agreement, which we reached in the Subcommittee on Interior last year, which over the next 6 years essentially doubles our ability to purchase key parcels of lands for future generations, all of those initiatives that the administration has taken have operated to reduce rather than strengthen our support for environmental cleanup. This is just one more instance.

It may seem like a small thing, but in my view it is not. The amendment is consistent with our efforts, for instance, to strengthen standards on arsenic in drinking water, which we just completed. So I would urge the House to support this amendment. I congratulate the gentleman for offering it, and I am happy to cosponsor it with him, and I would urge that the House adopt this amendment unanimously. I cannot think of a single constructive argument against the amendment.

12:50 PM EDT

John Tierney, D-MA 6th

Mr. TIERNEY. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentleman from New Jersey for yielding me this time and thank all those who have worked on this amendment.

I think we should just get rid of the mirrors and the smoke on this, Mr. Chairman, and cut straight to the heart of the matter. This administration is simply attempting to undercut the authority and the effectiveness of the EPA by reducing its funding by 25 million people and putting 270 people out to pasture.

12:50 PM EDT

John Tierney, D-MA 6th

Mr. TIERNEY. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentleman from New Jersey for yielding me this time and thank all those who have worked on this amendment.

I think we should just get rid of the mirrors and the smoke on this, Mr. Chairman, and cut straight to the heart of the matter. This administration is simply attempting to undercut the authority and the effectiveness of the EPA by reducing its funding by 25 million people and putting 270 people out to pasture.

12:50 PM EDT

John Tierney, D-MA 6th

Mr. TIERNEY. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentleman from New Jersey for yielding me this time and thank all those who have worked on this amendment.

I think we should just get rid of the mirrors and the smoke on this, Mr. Chairman, and cut straight to the heart of the matter. This administration is simply attempting to undercut the authority and the effectiveness of the EPA by reducing its funding by 25 million people and putting 270 people out to pasture.

12:50 PM EDT

John Tierney, D-MA 6th

Mr. TIERNEY. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentleman from New Jersey for yielding me this time and thank all those who have worked on this amendment.

I think we should just get rid of the mirrors and the smoke on this, Mr. Chairman, and cut straight to the heart of the matter. This administration is simply attempting to undercut the authority and the effectiveness of the EPA by reducing its funding by 25 million people and putting 270 people out to pasture.

12:50 PM EDT

James T. Walsh, R-NY 25th

Mr. WALSH. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

I just want to reiterate that the budget for enforcement is not cut, it is increased. And since the States do the lion's share of the enforcement, they receive the lion's share of the increase.

I think the idea is that we want to make sure that the money that is being spent on environmental protection is spent wisely, and we would like to have it in the hands of the individuals and in the hands of the States that are going to do the enforcement.

So this is obviously an increase in enforcement. I think if my colleagues support increasing enforcement, they would oppose this amendment.

12:54 PM EDT

James T. Walsh, R-NY 25th

Mr. WALSH. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

I just want to reiterate that the budget for enforcement is not cut, it is increased. And since the States do the lion's share of the enforcement, they receive the lion's share of the increase.

I think the idea is that we want to make sure that the money that is being spent on environmental protection is spent wisely, and we would like to have it in the hands of the individuals and in the hands of the States that are going to do the enforcement.

So this is obviously an increase in enforcement. I think if my colleagues support increasing enforcement, they would oppose this amendment.

12:55 PM EDT

Bob Menendez, D-NJ 13th

Mr. MENENDEZ. I thank the gentleman for yielding.

Just two points. As I understand it, $10 million of this goes to COLA, and the rest gets out of Federal enforcement. So to say Federal enforcement is in fact increased is not the reality. Federal enforcement is not increased.

1:00 PM EDT

Henry Waxman, D-CA 29th

Mr. WAXMAN. Mr. Chairman, I want to commend the gentleman for this amendment and rise in support of it.

President Bush has proposed cutting EPA's enforcement budget by $25 million and giving these funds to the States. I do not oppose giving the States money for enhanced enforcement of environmental laws, however, our laws cannot be adequately enforced if EPA's budget is slashed.

This amendment restores critically needed funding for enforcement of our environmental laws. I urge all my colleagues to support this. If we have these cuts we are talking about 2,000 fewer inspections, a 20 percent reduction in civil actions, an 11 percent reduction in criminal actions. There are many environmental programs that the States are simply not in a position to enforce. For example, States cannot ensure that pollution from one State does not affect neighboring States. This is a job

only the Federal Government can do. So I support the gentleman's amendment. I commend him for his leadership. I urge all my colleagues to vote for it.

1:02 PM EDT

Sheila Jackson-Lee, D-TX 18th

Ms. JACKSON-LEE of Texas. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentleman very much for his amendment. I thank him for yielding the time because I think it is important to clarify what we are doing here. It is to suggest to the American public that we do not want them to be denied of enforcement protection that the EPA provides them in clean water protection and clean air protection.

It is interesting that my colleague would cite the cuts coming from across the board and he cited FEMA. Obviously, coming from Texas, I am particularly interested in making sure [Page: H4756]

FEMA is funded fully. But we well know that OMB can make the decision as to where those cuts would come. This is simply an inclusion of $25 million to allow for 2,000 more inspections, to allow for 20 percent more civil actions to protect Americans in the issues of clean air

and clean water, and to allow 11 percent more in criminal prosecutions when individuals ignore the environmental protection laws to enhance the quality of life for Americans.

So I think this is a simple process and a simple proposition and a good proposition. Let us do the right thing and provide the Environmental Protection Agency with the kind of enforcement they need to enhance the quality of life for all Americans.