Sen. Jeffords' March 10 EPW Hearing Statement
Quotes Luntz Survey
Copyright 2004 The Federal News Service, Inc.
Federal News Service
March 10, 2004 Wednesday
SECTION: PREPARED TESTIMONY
HEADLINE: PREPARED STATEMENT OF SENATOR JIM JEFFORDS BEFORE THE SENATE
ENVIRONMENT AND PUBLIC WORKS COMMITTEE
SUBJECT - PRESIDENT'S FY 2005 BUDGET REQUEST FOR THE
ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY
Administrator Leavitt, it is a pleasure to welcome you
here today. We have known each other for many years, and I have great
respect for your abilities and believe that working together we can make
great strides in environmental protection. When I chaired this Committee
two years ago the President proposed a 3% cut in spending at the EPA.
Last year, the President proposed a 6% cut, and this year the President
is proposing a 7.2% cut from enacted levels. This is a most disturbing
trend, and one that I am committed to working against. This year, even
the Chairman of the Budget Committee could not abide by the President's
proposed EPA budget cuts. Today the Senate is voting on a Republican
budget that would increase, not decrease, spending at the EPA over last
year's levels. Though, of course, it remains to be seen whether the
appropriators will feel as generous.
This budget is essentially fiat and lifeless. It fails
to recognize the tremendous public health and environmental challenges
that we face now, and that we will leave for our children. It is true
that we have made great strides in reducing emissions of harmful
pollutants. But, we have a long way to go to protect the public's health
and clean up the environment. According to the EPA, more than 20,000
people are dying prematurely from fine particulate matter coming out of
power plant stacks.
That's happening right now, not 20 years from now.
Four-and-one-half million pounds of toxic air pollutants that cause
birth defects, cancer, mutation and developmental effects are being
spewed into the air every year. Acid rain continues to devastate
ecosystems in the Northeast and now the Southeast. Respected scientific
bodies say that global warming is occurring, at least in part because of
manmade emissions. And next year, according to the President's budget,
approximately 175 million people will live in areas with unhealthy air.
This is simply unacceptable in an advanced country like ours. In the
clean water arena, the Administration's budget completely fails to
recognize the staggering water resource needs of this nation.
The recent poll by Republican pollster Frank Luntz that
I am holding in my hand shows that 91% of Americans are concerned that
our waterways will not be clean for our children and grandchildren. Time
after time Americans express their outrage at the weakening of clean and
safe water protections and express their willingness to pay to maintain
water quality standards. In the 2005 budget, the Administration is
proposing to cut nearly IN HALF the funds available for clean water
infrastructure investments, from $1.35 billion to $850 million. This is
truly astonishing. In the last five years, an extremely broad consensus
has emerged that more money is needed for water infrastructure. I will
not accept promises of funding in out-years.