House Appropriations Committee markup cuts EPA funding

Yesterday, the House Appropriations Committee marked up the fiscal year 2015 Interior and Environment Appropriations Bill. The legislation would cut the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) overall funding by 9 percent in addition to cutting funding for EPA programs important to helping communities advance smart growth solutions.

During the markup, Interior and Environment Subcommittee Ranking Member Jim Moran (D-VA) raised concerns about the funding cuts included in the bill, saying, “this bill has suffered deeper cuts over the last decade than any other appropriations bill.” Ranking Member Nita Lowey (D-NY) voiced similar objections, stating that “the dramatic $717 million cut to the EPA would endanger the health of our communities.”

Specifically, the legislation would restrict any funding from the underlying legislation being used for the EPA’s smart growth program, which provides technical assistance to help communities provide more housing and transportation choices near jobs, shops and schools to support thriving local economies and protect the environment. The legislation also includes cuts in funding for the Brownfields Program. The Brownfields Program provides funding for communities to assess and clean up brownfields, a critical first step in turning brownfields back into productive use. Brownfields redevelopment has proven to be a catalyst for economic development in communities across the country.

In response to the funding cuts purposed by the House bill, Geoff Anderson, President and CEO of Smart Growth America, said, “Both the smart growth program and brownfields program provide critical resources and assistance to communities across the country to help position them to be economically competitive—especially at a time when the market is demanding greater infill development. For these reasons, it is disappointing that the House’s proposal cuts funding for the brownfields program and restricts the EPA from investing in the smart growth program.”

During the markup, a number of members on both sides of the aisle talked about the proposed EPA rule designed to reduce carbon emissions, with members variously raising their support and opposition to EPA proposal. The next step for the legislation is for the full House of Representatives to consider the proposal.