Conservative Republicans have been firing shots at the EPA for years, accusing the agency of hindering economic development and overstating the effects of pollution. This year is no different, as the presidential campaign has made it abundantly clear.
Obama, EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson, and other federal officials have been hammered by industry critics for imposing excessive government regulations that are hamstringing the economy and thwarting domestic energy production.
"Despite the president's promise of reducing regulations on American businesses, the reality is that his own administration's bureaucracies and broken policies are making energy development in the West increasingly difficult, time consuming, and cost prohibitive," Tim Wigley, president of Western Energy Alliance, said in a statement following Obama’s State of the Union address. "Killing the Keystone XL Pipeline is only the latest example of how job-creating energy initiatives have been stopped by this administration."
Obama has ordered an extensive review of EPA and other agency regulations to determine whether some of the rules should be changed or eliminated. What’s more, the president for the third straight year has proposed trimming the EPA budget, this time by $105 million or 1.2 percent of the current year’s budget of $8.4 billion.
One of the hardest hit EPA programs is the $2.38 billion revolving fund for state clean water and waterway maintenance projects. Many states are falling far behind in replacing antiquated pipes and water filtration facilities as well as maintaining waterways and other sources of fresh water. The president’s budget would reduce spending for these projects by $380 million or 16 percent.
Frank Maisano, an energy industry media consultant with the firm of Bracewell & Giuliani, dismissed much of Obama’s budget as political posturing and questioned whether the proposed 1.2 percent cut in EPA spending is real.
“Once again [we’re] seeing most of the cut in the state water revolving fund -- an old budget trick because usually that cuts [House and Senate] members’ projects funding, which will likely be replenished,” he said in an advisory to the media this week. “Once again, as if it really matters, the oil and gas industry will be targeted by the President with $41 billion over 10 years in new tax/lease revenues to fund renewable research. As we know, that has worked so well so far. “
Environmentalists praise Jackson, the agency director, for aggressively pressing for tougher clean air and water standards, safety reviews of dangerous chemicals and for standing up to congressional Republicans and industry critics.
“The leadership of the EPA does not shirk from a fight,” said Jason Rano, director of government affairs at the Environmental Working Group, which closely monitors the agency’s regulatory activities. “This is an EPA that is very proactive in insuring that they are carrying out their mission.”