The Environmental Protection Agency has taken the unusual step of putting a political operative in charge of vetting the hundreds of millions of dollars in grants the EPA distributes annually, assigning final funding decisions to a former Trump campaign aide with little environmental policy experience. In this role, John Konkus reviews every award the agency gives out, along with every grant solicitation before it is issued. According to both career and political employees, Konkus has told staff that he is on the lookout for “the double C-word” — climate change — and repeatedly has instructed grant officers to eliminate references to the subject in solicitations.
On Wednesday, the House Appropriations committee approved the Interior and Environment appropriations bill for Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 in a 30-21 vote. This budget represents an $824 million decrease from the FY 2017 enacted level, which Subcommittee Ranking Member Betty McCollum (MN-4) said she was “deeply disappointed” about, although the president’s budget request would have provided $4.3 billion less. The bill’s $31.4 billion includes $114.2 million for the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (matching the president’s request), $108.5 million for the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (a more than 30 percent increase from FY 2017), and $1.039 billion for the U.S. Geological Survey ($46 million less than the FY 2017 level).
Early last week amidst the anticipated unveiling of the president’s budget proposal, the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology’s Subcommittee on Environment discussed an equally contentious and ongoing topic – regulations promulgated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Arguments during the hearing echoed those heard before; committee Chairman Lamar Smith (TX-21) stated federal government regulations micromanage states and theorized a “unilateral environmental agenda,” while Ranking Member Suzanne Bonamici (OR-1) insisted they provide an even playing field for all Americans and are a response to “failure of the states to safeguard their residents from pollution in the from air, water, and soil.”
EPA Dismisses Half Of Key Board’s Scientific Advisers; Interior Suspends More Than 200 Advisory Panels
Both the Environmental Protection Agency and the Interior Department are overhauling a slew of outside advisory boards that inform how their agencies assess the science underpinning federal policies, the first step in a broader effort by Republicans to change the way the federal government evaluates the scientific basis for its regulations.
As Finding Nemo taught us, “All drains lead to the ocean.” This truth extends beyond drains; however – all rivers, tributaries, streams, and ponds eventually lead to the ocean, bringing with them every pollutant and contaminant they carry. The management of these waters and who has jurisdiction over them is a subject of contention under the Clean Water Rule: Definition of ‘‘Waters of the United States’’ (commonly referred to as WOTUS), which was discussed in a Wednesday hearing in the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.
Following in the wake of a sweeping executive order from President Trump that includes removing climate change impact considerations from federal decision-making, environmental regulations and the science that underpins them faced challenges in Congress...
Republicans on the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology announced their top five priorities for the 115th Congress, with Chairman Lamar Smith (TX-21) emphasizing the creation of “transparent environmental policies based on sound science and focused on innovation rather than regulation.”