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McCollum Opening Statement at FY2019 Appropriations Hearing With EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt

April 26, 2018
Press Release

Congresswoman Betty McCollum (DFL-Minn.), Ranking Member of the House Interior-Environment Appropriations Subcommittee, delivered the following opening remarks at the Subcommittee's hearing with Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt on April 26, 2018:

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Administrator Pruitt, thank you for being here today. The fiscal year 2019 EPA budget is reckless, irresponsible, and unrealistic. 

Two months ago, Congress passed a bipartisan budget agreement to increase non-defense discretionary spending for two years. A month ago, in a show of bipartisanship, the fiscal year 2018 omnibus was enacted into law. We soundly rejected President Trump’s reckless proposals that would desecrate our environment, starve federal agencies of the funding needed to meet critical missions, and jeopardize the health of millions of Americans.

President Trump’s first year in office has damaged our environment, public health, and natural resources. Today we will discuss many of these damaging policies and your role in turning back regulations that protect our environment. But that is not our only concern with your performance as EPA Administrator.

All of us, whether elected or appointed, have a responsibility to be good stewards of taxpayer dollars. In just one year as EPA Administrator, you have violated the public trust by abusing EPA resources and taxpayer dollars. Your decisions and actions have displayed a disregard for the ethical standards to which all public officials should adhere.

Administrator Pruitt, you are letting down the American people and your agency. Your actions are distracting EPA from its core mission and creating a toxic work environment that has demoralized your staff.       

One significant action that has proven to be not only unnecessary, but also unethical and unlawful, was your use of $43,000 to construct a privacy booth in your office. The Government Accountability Office found that you violated the Anti-Deficiency Act and another appropriations law by your failure to notify the Committee prior to the use of those funds. This is just one example of the poor judgment that continues to plague you.

I also have concerns about your work that extend far beyond your ethical lapses, and which undercut the mission of EPA. 

Thankfully, our government is built upon the principle of checks and balances, and the courts are striking down much of the substandard work done by you and your political team.  The courts have already ruled that EPA acted illegally in its efforts to undermine the Methane and Ozone rules. Based on your pattern of hasty and careless work, I expect that the courts will continue to rule against your reckless roll backs.

Administrator Pruitt, let me remind you, the law requires that the delay of a regulation or issuance of a new rule be based on solid science.  You cannot just ignore the requirements of the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, or other bedrock environmental laws. But even though your work is turning out to be ineffective, we cannot ignore the danger that your policies pose for the American people.

Climate change is the greatest environmental threat our planet faces, and your actions jeopardize our future, our national security, and the health of our communities. 

Withdrawing from the Paris Climate Accord or watering down fuel efficiency standards will harm the health of our children and grandchildren. 

Rolling back regulations that limit emissions will mean more cases of asthma in children. 

Keeping harmful pesticides on the market will damage children’s brain development.

Your approach is bad for the environment, bad for public health, and bad for business. Furthermore, it is a waste of taxpayer’s money to develop regulations that ultimately will be overruled by the courts.

You are falling short, and you are failing all Americans and your own agency by not achieving the mission of the EPA to protect human health and the environment. 

The recently-passed fiscal year 2018 omnibus clearly shows that Congress values a healthy environment. We will not support President Trump’s budget or your efforts to cripple the EPA with draconian cuts. 

Mr. Chairman, I pledge to work with you and our colleagues in Congress to maintain funding levels that allow EPA to continue to protect our environment. No matter what Administrator Pruitt may do to prioritize the profits of fossil fuel and chemical corporations, it falls to Congress to ensure that the air we breathe and the water we drink is safe for the American people.

Thank you Mr. Chairman. I yield back.