Simpson Remarks at FY24 Budget Hearing for the Environmental Protection Agency (As Prepared)

Mar 28, 2023

The hearing will come to order.

Good afternoon and welcome back, for the second time today, to discuss the President’s budget proposal for FY 2024.  

Earlier this morning, Secretary Haaland with the Interior Department joined us and now we are pleased to welcome Administrator Regan from the Environmental Protection Agency.  Thank you for being here today, Administrator Regan.

As you know, I previously served as Chairman of this subcommittee, and I’m very excited to be back in this role again.

In part because I am a lifelong conservationist from a Western state and recognize the importance of protecting and preserving our land and water resources.

But, as I said the last time I was Chairman and I will say it again – The overspending has gone on too long, and we need to tighten our belts.  When I Chaired this subcommittee a decade ago, we wrote and passed a bill in the House that reduced funding for EPA by 18 percent.  We again need to have a serious and reasoned discussion about our federal spending.

The President’s FY 2024 budget proposal for EPA totals $12 billion, a 19.2 percent increase above the current level.  If enacted, this would be the highest level of funding for EPA in history.

And the record-high budget request comes alongside the unprecedented influx of more than $100 billion EPA received from several large spending packages last year.

Already, the agency has hired an additional 742 staff using money just from the infrastructure bill.  One of my concerns is what all of this hiring is going to do to the agency down the road, because the money from the packages last year is temporary, not permanent.  Is the agency going to be pinning Congress with a hiring cliff down the road?

Additionally, while the increase in EPA’s budget request is staggering, it’s concerning that the budget proposes to flat fund many bipartisan and popular programs, and grants that go directly to states, Tribes, and local governments.

In fact, the proposal eliminates or reduces funding in some of the most popular places, like rural water technical assistance funding, while substantially increasing select programs – enforcement and environmental justice by $312 million, clean air by $459 million – that will be dead on arrival in the House.

Finally, I am concerned with EPA’s barrage of burdensome regulations that are harming everyone from farmers, energy developers, critical mineral development, and American families who will bear the brunt of the costs.

Just a few weeks ago, the House passed, with bipartisan support, a Congressional Review Act disapproval resolution on the Administration’s Waters of the U.S. Rule, which went into effect eight days ago [on March 20] for all states except Texas and Idaho due to a court decision.  

From where I sit, it seems like the rule-making staff at EPA are continuing a sprint to get as many regulations as possible on the books which will have serious consequences on our economy, jobs, and energy security and reliability.

Rolling back the WOTUS rule received bipartisan support in Congress, and I hope that is a clear message from the Administration that Americans are concerned about over-regulation.

I know many of my colleagues have questions for you today, and I am ready to have the necessary and tough deliberations about how best to spend our limited federal resources in order to ensure our natural resources – our lands and waters in Idaho and across the country – are protected and preserved while still promoting economic development and job creation.

Thank you, Administrator Regan, for being here today to have this discussion with us.  Now, I’d like to yield to Ranking Member Pingree for her opening statement.