Senator Murkowski Questions Administrator Pruitt over EPA Budget
Calls on Pruitt for Action Addressing Uniqueness of Alaska
U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) chaired an Interior Appropriations Subcommittee hearing today, examining the Fiscal Year 2019 budget request for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). During the hearing, Senator Murkowski and her colleagues reviewed programs within the EPA, to ensure taxpayer dollars are used responsibly, and that the Agency is able to carry out their work.
“Administrator Pruitt, when you were before the committee last year you said that you would work to return the EPA to its core mission of ensuring clean water, clean air, and clean land, something that we all encourage and support. You also stated a desire to treat states as equal partners rather than as adversaries and to promote a cooperative federalism approach in your actions.” said Senator Murkowski. “I have seen several steps that demonstrate a commitment to those goals such as the Waters of the United States or WOTUS rule, a significant issue with real implications for a state like Alaska where approximately two-thirds of the state are considered wetlands. Your commitment to work with me on the issue of small, remote incinerators and efforts to avoid duplicative financial assurance requirements on hardrock mining are also areas where we have had an opportunity to engage, and advance some common goals.”
Murkowski expressed her concerns that important policy efforts are being overshadowed due to a series of issues related to the management of the Agency. Administrator Pruitt highlighted some of the work of the Agency toward achieving the EPA’s mission, but acknowledged that he has made decisions in the past that he would not make again.
While Senator Murkowski acknowledged the Agency’s effort to propose funding for programs which have broad support, she cited areas in the budget request where she disagreed with the Agency’s direction and would work to restore proposed cuts critical to Alaskan communities, such as the Alaska Native Villages water program, Targeted Airshed grants, and funding for basic water infrastructure.
Senator Murkowski asked specific questions regarding concerns for Alaskans: (Click headlines to watch videos)
- Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) Rule: Senator Murkowski questioned Administrator Pruitt on the Agency’s plans to reexamine the WOTUS rule, requesting a status update for the Agency’s efforts on updating the rule with a more common-sense proposal.
- Water Programs: Murkowski asked what it would take to get new rural water programs up and running in a timely manner for small and disadvantaged communities, in order to help improve public health.
- Targeted Airshed Grant Program: Murkowski discussed with Administrator Pruitt the challenges that the Fairbanks North Star Borough has with meeting EPA air quality requirements, and asked what the EPA is doing to address the uniquely complex situation in Fairbanks.
- Diesel Generators: As many remote Alaskan communities still use diesel generators to produce power, Senator Murkowski asked Administrator Pruitt for a commitment to help find a workable solution to an EPA diesel generator regulation for remote Alaska microgrids.
- Small Remote Incinerators: Senator Murkowski asked the Administrator to commit to find a workable solution on EPA rules related to small, remote incinerators that are used for solid waste disposal in rural areas which have limited alternatives to waste disposal.
- Fish Waste Grinding: Murkowski questioned Administrator Pruitt on what the EPA is doing to address a longstanding issue of unworkable standards for grinding of fish waste.
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