Chaired By: Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA)
Witness: Lisa Jackson, Administrator, Environmental Protection Agency
Copyright ©2009 by Federal News Service, Inc., Ste. 500, 1000 Vermont Ave, Washington, DC 20005 USA. Federal News Service is a private firm not affiliated with the federal government. No portion of this transcript may be copied, sold or retransmitted without the written authority of Federal News Service, Inc. Copyright is not claimed as to any part of the original work prepared by a United States government officer or employee as a part of that person's official duties. For information on subscribing to the FNS Internet Service at www.fednews.com, please email Carina Nyberg at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1-202-216-2706.
SEN. BOXER: I know Administrator Jackson has a very hectic day so we have accommodated her, starting 15 minutes earlier than normal, but we will also try to keep our opening statements to four minutes.
And I would start by thanking Administrator Jackson for appearing before the committee today to discuss the president's budget for the EPA.
Every year the committee holds a hearing to examine the budget for the EPA, and clearly, during the last administration there was rarely any good news in the budget. For example, the Bush '09 budget represented a 26 percent decline in resources over the past eight years. And I'm pleased to see this budget represents a fresh new commitment to safeguarding public health, including the health of our children, curbing the carbon pollution that causes global warming and creating clean energy jobs.
The investments in this budget signal the high priority the president places on the health of the environment and the health of the American people. Our states and our cities are faced with unprecedented need to invest in drinking water plants and wastewater treatment facilities. These systems help ensure our families can safely turn on the tap when they go to work in the morning and come home in the evening and they will keep our lakes and rivers clean for fishing and swimming, so important to all of us in our states.
EPA estimates that our nation has more than $200 billion in investment needs just for wastewater infrastructure. By 2019 our drinking water infrastructure needs could top $100 billion.
And I think it's important to note that when we do clean these areas up and bring them up to speed we create many, many good-paying jobs, so this budget would provide $3.9 billion for drinking and wastewater infrastructure, an increase of more than $2.3 billion. This is more than a down payment on protecting public health; again, it will put people to work and rebuild our crucial infrastructure.
I look forward to our business meeting later this week where we plan to move forward to reauthorize and update the clean water and safe drinking water revolving funds. I'm pleased we've introduced a bipartisan bill -- yes -- that reflects our agreement on the importance of this issue. And if we do pass this -- it's the revolving fund that deals with rebuilding our sewer infrastructure I don't think that's been authorized in 22 years -- 22 years. And we're on the verge of breaking that. And then the other, the drinking water revolving fund's about 13 years.
So we're very excited, Administrator Jackson, that with you helping us and guiding us and working with us we can make some real bipartisan progress.
There are important elements in this budget addressing global warming, the Energy Star program, a national inventory of large sources of greenhouse gas emissions which Senator Klobuchar has worked so hard on. There's an analysis of issues related to cap and trade for controlling the pollution. There's developing vehicle emission reduction technologies to address carbon pollution and help our car manufacturers adopt such technologies and become more competitive.
So this is an historic budget. I will say I have a concern. I'm worried about the Superfund cleanup piece and I don't understand why the projected number of completed Superfund cleanups is down despite the overall increase in the budget and why diesel emissions reduction efforts, which is so important to Senator Carper and so important to protecting children from asthma, why that's been cut. I'm concerned that the needs of state and local air officials don't appear to be adequately reflected.
So here's where I come out: I'm happy with most of it, I'm concerned with a few pieces here, and at the end of the day the budget begins the hard work of restoring America's confidence in the EPA. It would make our families healthier, our communities safer, and I'll put the rest of my statement in the record to keep with the four minutes.
And under the rules, I'm going to call -- thanks to Senator Vitter -- I'm going to call on Senator Klobuchar, then Senator Vitter, and then Senator Lautenberg.
SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN): Thank you very much, Madame Chair.
And thank you, Senator Vitter, for allowing me to go first. I'm going to another committee hearing to introduce my former professor, Cass Sunstein, who hopefully will help you get through all these regulations so we can get some things done here.
I want to also tell you how much I appreciate the leadership you've shown at the EPA and the integrity you are working to restore to the office. I'm looking forward to going through your budget and working with you on this budget.
I also am pleased that there is money set aside for that greenhouse gas registry. I always felt that we're not going to be able to start any kind of a greenhouse gas system nationally in terms of reducing greenhouse gases if we can't even count them and this is the very important first step that should have been done administratively awhile back. I always thought it was ironic that we had something like 37 states that had started their own greenhouse gas registry together because the federal government had failed to act.
I also appreciate as chair of the Subcommittee on Children's Health and as a fellow parent of a school-aged child that you've instituted a new plan for screening combinations of chemicals, recognizing that people are never exposed to just one chemical alone but typically small doses of multiple chemicals in combination. And I understand this new method will pay particular attention to the way small children are affected disproportionately by toxic chemical exposure and may help us realize some of the causes of serious medical problems that plague people later in life.
And I just wanted to mention one thing that we had talked about earlier this week and just the status of biofuels. I believe that if we're going to move to the next stage of ethanol in biofuels, the cellulosic ethanol with switch grass and prairie grass and corn stover and other things, that we have to continue to make sure that we don't pull the rug out from under our existing biofuel business, which has had to compete tooth and nail with these humungous oil companies to just get into existence.
I know we've talked about that. I personally believe that to fulfill some of the national requirements that were included in the energy bill we need to move to higher blends of ethanol -- E12, E15 -- and I'm hopeful that there will be money set aside to get those proceedings moving because we've been waiting a long time to do that and biofuels clearly should be a part of the work that we do in order to get ourselves off of our dependence on foreign oil.
So overall, I wanted to thank you for your good work, Administrator Jackson, the work of the EPA, the fact that we're able to get information and evidence and things that we need to make good decisions. As you know, we have a major, major bill ahead of us with the climate change bill and we look forward to your leadership and working with you to make sure that we have a strong bill that not only reverses the trend we've seen across the world with global warming but also does it in a way that will make sure that middle-class people, people who have been harmed in this economy, are not hurt by our action. And what we want to do is have them helped by this action, and I believe there's a way that we can do it.
Thank you very much.
SEN. BOXER: Thank you, Senator, very much.
Before you leave I want to talk to you about one quick thing on the way out.
SEN. DAVID VITTER (R-LA): Thank you very much, Madame Chairman, for the opportunity to discuss this proposed budget and delve into some of the major items facing the agency and the country.
And thank you, Administrator Jackson, for your time here and your leadership.
As we discuss the president's budget I think it's important to note some broad conflicting signals given by the administration through the budget. On the one hand, the president touts fiscal responsibility. On the other hand, he proposes major spending increases which result in record deficits and national debt.
Early on the administration asked us to support an $800 billion borrowing plan essentially on our kids' credit card to stimulate the economy, and we were told that that $800 billion in added debt would create 3.5 million jobs. I hope that gamble pays off. I hope it supports and creates those jobs. However, going beyond that as we move from a one-time stimulus to a five- and 10-year budget plan, my concern grows when we see that level of spending increase continue and reflected in the budget, including an EPA budget that grows 37 percent in one year.
Now, EPA has a very important responsibility in protecting our environment. It also has a responsibility not to regulate our economy into a full-blown depression, and that's my other very serious concern.
The most notable decision in this new EPA in that regard the greenhouse gas endangerment finding. It's no secret that that decision to attribute climate change to six greenhouse gases is intended to pressure Congress into passing comprehensive cap and trade legislation. Hopefully EPA recognizes the precarious situation this decision places the agency and the administration in.
There exists no legitimate economic argument that regulating CO2 would not significantly increase the cost of energy. And in addition, there's no economic analysis to support the idea that increasing the cost of energy would not be a major negative impact on low-income families or force some jobs and businesses overseas. And that's the great, great risk with the endangerment finding.
Essentially, it really seems you're telling Congress, then, unless we pass legislation that will increase the cost of energy, including on low-income families and businesses and schools, then you'll be forced as an agency to regulate CO2 and unilaterally increase the cost of energy on those same low-income families and businesses and schools/
Now, despite the 37 percent increase in funding at a time of record deficits, I do think there are some important and good expenditures certainly within this budget, and I want to highlight that. Those include funding for the clean water and drinking water infrastructure program, which is needed in many areas, certainly including rural Louisiana. However, we may also be on the verge of having new environmental regulations that could single-handedly cripple the economy, also limit property rights and our country's ability to generate wealth, including in those areas.
I'll submit the remainder of my comments for the record, but again, I want to underscore two key themes: one is on the fiscal side, a grave concern about this enormous increase in spending and, with it, deficit and debt, not just again in a one-time stimulus but in a game plan for federal spending for the next five and 10 years; and secondly, specific policy, including on the greenhouse gas side, that will clearly spell enormous increase in energy costs and negative impact on jobs.
Thank you, Madame Chairman.
SEN. BOXER: Thanks. I want to use the 40 seconds that Senator Vitter went over to give myself time to rebut a couple things he said. You know -- (laughs) -- if you're in danger, you're in danger. The Bush administration, we got all their information; they made a very similar endangerment finding. It was only because it was stopped in cyberspace that the rest of us didn't know about it till we sought the documents. You know, it's like saying if you go to the doctor and the doctor finds you have cancer, but he doesn't want to tell you, he's not going to tell you because you're transitioning to a different job, that's ridiculous. Either a pollutant is a danger to the planet and to the health of our families, or it isn't. It's not about whether there's a recession or a boom in the economy; it is what it is, as my kids always tell me.
Now, the fact is that when we do this right, we're going to create clean energy jobs that will never go away, we will get off of foreign oil, and we'll have enough money for consumer rebates to keep people whole. That's the truth. So all this fear-mongering is off base because it's the opposite. We are going to create these clean jobs that can't be taken away from us. We are going to revive our economy, and we're going to have enough funds coming in from the door from the polluters to make people whole, and during that transition. So this debate started this morning; I didn't bring it up, but it was brought up so I feel as chairman of this committee we will be reporting out a strong bill. I felt I should respond.
SEN. VITTER: Madame Chair?
SEN. BOXER: Yes?
SEN. VITTER: Can I just reclaim my 40 seconds?
SEN. BOXER: Well, you spoke 40 seconds overtime, and I matched you. I will call on you after Senator --
SEN. FRANK LAUTENBERG (D-NJ): Let me pile on first, will you?
SEN. BOXER: Yeah. You can -- after Senator Lautenberg you can have time.
SEN. VITTER: Sure.
SEN. BOXER: And then, of course, I'll have time. And then, of course, we'll turn to Administrator Jackson. (Laughs.)
SEN. LAUTENBERG: Madame Chairman, thanks for your renewable source of energy and continuing to fight against the foul environment that we see. And sometimes these egregious claims that are made just challenge logic and thought.
We've been lucky that in a little more than a hundred days, Lisa Jackson, with President Obama being a great cheerleader and supporter -- since Ms. Jackson's been at the helm, EPA has made some monumental decisions. It formally declared that carbon dioxide is a pollutant and a threat to the public's health and welfare. It is considering granting the California waiver to allow states like New Jersey and California to regulate greenhouse emissions from vehicles. And just last week EPA announced it would revisit two rules from the Bush administration that deregulated more than a million tons of hazardous waste.
And we're seeing a new era of leadership at EPA, and we're grateful. And despite a special advantage Ms. Jackson has -- she served as DEP commissioner in New Jersey, and that of course gave her the base of knowledge that helps her just -- handle all of these things so perfectly, and we're grateful. And we see a new leadership, new commitment to the agency's mission. The budget request shows that the commitment, by funding the EPA -- by funding EPA at the highest level in its 39-year history it gives the agency the resources it needs to clean up our communities, keep our children healthy.
Now, the fund programs also are job-creating impetuses. They're going to help turn our economy into a much -- our environment into a much cleaner environment -- and a clean energy economy as well.
It helps erase the neglect we saw under the previous administration. First, the budget adds to the funding provided in the Economic Recovery Act for the nation's Superfund program. That program is important to me both because it falls under the subcommittee that I now chair, and more importantly because it has such an impact, our state of New Jersey.
Now, New Jersey has more Superfund sites than any state in the country. And those sites are decaying, allowing toxins to seep into the neighborhoods where our children live, learn and play. And by funding this Superfund program, cleaning up these sites will create jobs, revitalize local communities that have been crippled by the toxic legacy of irresponsible companies.
And I want to respond to our colleague's comment. And he has every right to view things from his perspective, as he does. But I would say this, that when we talk about a budget for EPA and we look behind the numbers, behind the arithmetic, and see what it means -- as the grandfather of a child with asthma, I must tell you, it worries me enough to say that if I could only pay more and get that air cleaner so I don't have to hear that he was wheezing when he played baseball and had to be carried off the field. SO let's look at this from a practical standpoint.
When the state of Louisiana was crushed by that terrible hurricane they asked for lots of money and got lots of money to try and help them out of this abyss that they were in. And that's what we're talking about here. And instead of being -- sitting here as the auditors we ought to sit here as the doctors and do what we can to protect the health of these families.
And again, by funding these programs, cleaning up these sites, we'll revitalize local communities that have been crippled by the toxic legacy of irresponsible companies.
The budget also proposes that we restore the Superfund Polluter Pays principle to make sure that polluters, not taxpayers, are footing the bill for these cleanups. And later this year I'm going to introduce legislation to accomplish this goal. And I look forward to working with the administration to make sure that that bill becomes law.
According to EPA, we'll be able to raise $1 billion each year starting in 2011 and as much as $2 billion annually by 2019. The budget request makes a crucial and necessary investment in our water infrastructure. And this budget proposes $3.9 billion to provide loans to states to build and repair our crumbling water system, create thousands of technical and construction jobs, making our economy and our communities healthier.
Madame Chairman, forgive the overrun here.
This budget provides the resources to protect our environment, grow our economy at the same time, and I applaud the administration and Administrator Jackson's efforts. And I look forward to hearing about -- more about EPA's progress. Damn the torpedoes; plow on ahead.
SEN. BOXER: (Laughs.) Thank you, Dr. Lautenberg.
You're not an auditor, you're a doctor. I love that analogy. I think it's right on target.
So we're going to give -- a little bit different, here -- we're going to give Senator Vitter a chance -- one minute -- and then we're going to Senator Sanders and then Senator Barrasso.
SEN. VITTER: Thanks, Madame Chair.
Just quickly, I just wanted to add -- you and I are obviously going to disagree about the fundamentals of climate change, and that's fine. But I hope as we go through the debate we can have a full, honest debate. And I just don't think it's part of that full, honest debate to suggest that these very dramatic measures we're talking about are going to grow the economy, create more jobs, have an overall positive economic impact and not have an enormous economic cost.
It really reminds me of something going on in your state, which is the actions of the California Air Resources Board. They intentionally skewed their analysis of the economic effects of their proposed climate action plan and made these same arguments -- that it would actually increase the gross state product based on these new green jobs. Problem is they had six economists peer review that analysis, and all six of those economists -- and it was not some conservative think tank -- all six of those economists chosen to peer review that analysis said it was deeply, deeply flawed. In the words of Harvard economics professor Robert Stavins, who's the Albert Pratt professor of business and government --
SEN. BOXER: Yes. He's going over his time.
SEN. VITTER: -- quote, "I've come to the inescapable conclusion that the economic analysis is terribly deficient --
SEN. BOXER: Okay.
SEN. VITTER: -- in critical ways and should not be used by the state government."
SEN. BOXER: (Sounds gavel.)
SEN. VITTER: So I just think we need to have that full and honest debate.
SEN. BOXER: Well, trust me, you are going to have as much time as you want. And I'm going to have as much time as I want to debate that. And I would tell you, you don't know my state. If my state hadn't passed this cutting-edge global warming bill we would be in far worse shape. We've seen the development of 400 -- 400 -- new solar energy companies. People are installing weatherization, solar rooftops. Party of "no" -- that's what we're facing here, folks, the party of "no" versus the party of the future.
Please, Senator Sanders.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT): Thank you, Madame Chair.
First of all, welcome, Ms. Jackson. We lived through eight years of an administration that in many ways did not even believe in science, let alone the reality of global warming, let alone the need to protect our air, our water, our food. And I implore -- and I am delighted that we now have an administration that understands that you don't have a choice.
As Senator Lautenberg mentioned a moment ago, we do not have options about whether we keep our children healthy, about whether or not the air we breathe is clean, whether the food we eat is safe. That is not an option. That is a sacred obligation that the government has in terms of protecting its people.
And I think what this budget reflects is an understanding that we have neglected the EPA for many years, that we want the EPA there to vigorously protect our environment, the health and well-being of our people, that we must address the crisis of global warming, and that, as the chairwoman just indicated, the reality is, and the president has made this clear and I agree with him, that one of the key issues of our generation -- maybe the defining issue of our generation -- is whether or not we finally break our dependence on fossil fuel, move to energy efficiency, move to sustainable energy and, in the process, over a period of years create millions of good-paying jobs.
I know some of my friends on the other side don't believe it. They're wrong.
The reality is that we have the potential to transform our economy and our energy system and the EPA is going to play an important role on that.
So I applaud the president for understanding that reality, for beginning the process of putting the necessary funds into that struggle. And we certainly are confident that Administrator Jackson is going to be a great leader in that effort.
So thank you, Madame Chair.
SEN. BOXER: Senator Sanders, thank you.
SEN. JOHN BARRASSO (R-WY): Thank you very much, Madame Chairman.
Madame Chairman, I come from a state that is blessed with many natural resources and our state is a leader in energy production. Wyoming has what the country needs. We have it all. We have wind, natural gas, coal, oil, uranium. We have it all. And it's imperative the administration propose a budget that ensures we use all sources of American energy.
This is not just for the benefit of Wyoming. It is for the benefit of the entire nation. America needs an "all of the above" energy strategy. No resources should be excluded for politically correct reasons. I sincerely believe that we should make America's energy as clean as we can as fast as we can without raising prices for American families.
This budget works against that goal. I'm concerned that the bloated budget that we have before us today will feed a growing regulatory monster. It is the most expensive budget in the EPA's 39- year history. Its size and scope signals the coming storm of regulations that will cripple energy production in America.
The vast array of new rules, mandates and regulations that the administration plans to impose are staggering. The new influx of taxpayer money will likely go to EPA to ramp up permit processing for all of the predicted 1.2 million new entities that will be captured under the new Clean Air Act rules. These are the rules that will be forthcoming under the EPA's endangerment finding.
Among these entities are schools, farms, hospitals, nursing homes, small businesses and other commercial entities. The permits take, on average, 866 hours of work to process at a cost of $125,000 to the permittee.
If passed, more taxpayer money will also go to implement the Clean Water Restoration Act. The act would capture all wet areas of a state under EPA's control. More government workers will also need to be hired at EPA to process all the Clean Water Act restoration permits required of farmers, ranchers, small and large towns across America.
Attorneys from across America will be hired by the EPA to enforce new regulations on energy producers, farmers, small businesses, ordinary communities. With attorneys will come support staff: secretaries, clerks, tech people, administrative assistants. The green job bonanza for the EPA will not be all across America. It will be right here in Washington, D.C.
Washington is quick to pass new environmental federal mandates on our states, but it is less likely to provide funding to those states. Wyoming, like our other states, needs assistance to implement many of our environmental laws. New permitting requirements under the Clean Air Act could overwhelm the states. Ranchers, farmers, small-business owners will bear the brunt of these new permits. If the agencies are going to mandate new requirements, then Washington needs to pay for them.
The bottom line is this budget is not an investment in America's future. It is an investment in Washington's future. Given the economic times we live in, Americans deserve better.
I look forward to the testimony of the administrator.
SEN. BOXER: Thank you very much.
And we turn to Senator Whitehouse.
SEN. SHELDON WHITEHOUSE (D-RI): Thank you, Madame Chair.
Welcome, Administrator. The debate, just in the opening statements, is already lively. It's interesting. You are appearing before a committee of the United States Senate, which I think at this point is one of the very last places in America where the voices of the polluters and the polluting industries still prevail on the question of climate change.
You can even go to the boardrooms of our major electric utilities and they seem to have gotten it. Certainly there's an enormous amount of American industry that has gotten it. The insurance industry has gotten it, at least the property casualty side. You can go to churches and hunting groups and fishing groups and people who live with this. They get it.
But somehow in this United States Senate, the polluting industries and their political heft still promises to carry the day in opposition to climate change.
So my urge to you is that well within the law and well within the support of the administrative record that has been developed on climate change, on carbon regulation and on auto tailpipe emissions, you legislate (sic) -- legislate -- you administrate and you make decisions and your agency makes decision that are as strong as they can be.
And that, I believe, is the one thing that can change the present dynamic so that people come to the Senate and say okay, we're here to actually solve this problem. Otherwise this is an industry that will duck this problem endlessly. And if they get to a situation in which they think they can get a good deal out of EPA and that they don't have to come to the Senate and they can use their influence here and to keep us from being effective on climate change, I think you have a worst-case scenario. I think we need strong, lawful, fact-based regulation out of EPA, which not only is your proper legal duty but also, I think, will have enormous beneficial effects in terms of the atmosphere that surrounds climate change legislation here in the Senate.
I honestly believe that at this point, without that, we don't have the chance of passing a significant climate change bill here. There is simply too much influence by the polluters who don't want to pay for the pollution that they cause.
Simple prospect: polluter pays, but they don't -- polluters obviously don't like that prospect and so here we are, stuck.
So I encourage you with the budget that you have before you to be diligent, to be strong and to go exactly where the facts and the evidence lead you.
And I thank you very much.
SEN. BOXER: Thank you so much.
SEN. THOMAS UDALL (D-NM): Thank you very much, Madame Chair.
And I would just prefer to put my testimony in the record and proceed with the administrator and ask questions as we go along.
SEN. BOXER: Well, thank you so much, Senator -- unlike the rest of us who have really gotten into the debate already.
Can you imagine when we start marking up that bill? That's going to be hot. It's going to make global warming look cool.
All right. We're ready to go.
Administrator Jackson, you have the floor, and you want seven minutes to open or something like that?
MS. JACKSON: I don't think I'll need the whole --
SEN. BOXER: Well, we'll give you seven.
MS. JACKSON: Okay. Thank you. Thank you so much, Madame Chair.
SEN. BOXER: Okay.
MS. JACKSON: Thank you for your leadership. And thank you to members of the committee for inviting me to appear before you today to discuss the proposed FY 2010 budget request for the Environmental Protection Agency.
We believe this budget is carefully designed to address our environmental challenges and contribute to the country's economic recovery and I'm happy to have the chance to share my thoughts with you today.
The president requests $10.5 billion for FY 2010 to carry out EPA's mission to protect human health and the environment. That request reflects both the challenges and promise we face in an era of higher energy costs, global climate change, and economic crisis.
For far too long, the American people have been offered a false choice: economic prosperity or environmental protection. We believe we can do better. In fact, we believe that clean energy, clean air and water, and a healthy environment have powerful economic potential. You will see that in this budget. Economic recovery and environmental protections go hand in hand here.
The president's budget starts the work needed to transform our economy. It includes investments in cutting-edge green technologies, repairs to crumbling infrastructure and stronger regulatory and scientific capabilities to make the nation's water, air, and land cleaner for our communities, families and children.
These investments put Americans back to work while at the same time helping our communities, our children and our health. It also provides a substantial increase in support to address public health and environmental challenges that can no longer be postponed.
Water infrastructure, fresh-water resources, climate change, critical research and chemical management all require urgent action.
In short, the budget reflects President Obama's commitment to usher in a new era of environmental stewardship and put us on a clear path to a cleaner and safer planet.
The most significant investment in the FY 2010 budget is $3.9 billion for clean water and drinking water state revolving funds. Those funds support water infrastructure projects for states, tribes and territories. These investments will prepare us to match the success we had in the 1970s and 1980s when EPA construction grants helped build much of the infrastructure that dramatically increased our nation's water quality and its safety.
We estimate that this 157 percent funding increase in the state revolving funds will finance 1,000 clean-water and 700 drinking-water projects across America, projects that will upgrade the nation's aging water infrastructure, assure safe drinking water and create well- paying American jobs.
EPA's FY 2010 budget also supports efforts to develop a comprehensive energy and climate change policy with measures to increase energy independence, move into a low-carbon economy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
This comes in the form of a $19 million increase to help EPA, among other things, implement the greenhouse gas inventory so we can take the very important step of measuring our progress in reducing emissions. That will also ensure that we are targeting major sources of emissions without overburdening small business and others.
Just as we need to address climate change, we also need to manage the risks associated with the chemicals that we use. The FY 2010 budget requests $55 million, an increase of $8 million over FY 2009 levels to fund and enhance toxic programs to screen, assess and reduce chemical risk.
This 17 percent increase will help EPA complete screening level hazard and risk characterization and initiate action as needed on more than 6,750 organic U.S. chemicals.
The president's budget also contains an increase of $24 million for the Superfund program. That investment will enhance enforcement and removal work and support the broader Superfund program.
The budget also includes a proposal to reinstate the Superfund fee that expired in 1995. Beginning in FY 2011 the so-called Polluter Pays measure will generate $1 billion a year, rising to $2 billion by 2019.
Those are extremely important resources needed to fund cleanups of contaminated sites across America.
Along with increases in Superfund, the budget provides a total of $175 billion for the brownfields program, a $5 million increase from 2009. The brownfields program is designed to help states, tribes, local communities and other stakeholders in economic redevelopment to work together to assess, safely clean up and reuse brownfields.
Revitalizing these once productive properties helps communities by removing blight, satisfying the growing demand for land, helping limit urban sprawl, enabling economic development, and improving quality of life.
These protection efforts focus on ensuring that contaminated sites are ready to be returned to beneficial use by our communities, putting both people and property to work.
Madame Chairman and members of the committee, the FY 2010 budget request sets EPA on a clear path to addressing the pressing environmental challenges that face our nation. It enables us to accomplish important work that Americans support and has clear benefits to the economic, environmental and human health of our communities.
Thank you, again, for your time. And I'm happy to answer any questions this committee might have.
SEN. BOXER: Thank you.
We'll each take four minutes.
Administrator Jackson, the Energy Star program has been extremely successful in increasing energy efficiency in appliances. EPA estimates that the program helped people save more than $19 million in utility bills and to prevent the equivalent of more than 43 million metric tons of greenhouse gases in '08. This is a win-win.
Your budget asks for a million-dollar increase in the Energy Star program. Can you describe how you think the program is functioning and whether it can be made even more effective?
MS. JACKSON: I couldn't agree more, Madame Chair, that the Energy Star program is a success. It is a win-win. It has been a voluntary program, and it's about giving Americans the information they need to make educated choices.
Probably the flagship is in the appliances that we buy. You can go to a store and look at an appliance and make a determination. If you see the Energy Star seal, you know you're getting an appliance with energy efficiency.
The additional money will help us continue that program, to continue to update it to make sure that we stay on the front edge of technology which is evolving, so that Americans can continue to have trust in the Energy Star label, and additionally to move into home improvement and energy efficiency on the building side, because as we see massive amounts of money being poured into energy efficiency on the building side, we want to give Americans information there as well.
SEN. BOXER: Good, good. Well, I'm going to be very supportive of you.
Now, I want to ask a question about the Superfund sites. And I know Senator Lautenberg shares this concern. We were discussing it yesterday.
I don't have to tell you they're the most contaminated toxic waste sites in the country, with arsenic, benzene, lead, which is known to cause cancer and damage human development. So I'm perplexed that EPA has revised its expected number of cleanups from 35 under George Bush's estimates to 20. And the agency only anticipates cleaning up 22 sites next year. This is down significantly from the average annual pace of cleanups during the Clinton administration. They were way up -- I think they were 80 -- 80 sites a year. So obviously I'm not happy about this and I know others aren't.
So I'm going to ask you two questions. One, what accounts for the decline in cleanups? And, also, I'm concerned about the diesel emissions reduction work, that you're cutting a lot of the funds there. Last year we had ($)15 million for diesel emissions reduction work in San Joaquin and South Coast Air Quality Management Districts in the state of California. Again, diesel emissions cause or contribute to heart disease, premature deaths.
So I'm going to work to reinstate the funding, but I'm perplexed. Could you explain to me the administration's reason for cutting those funds and for cutting the number of Superfund cleanups? Those are the two areas that concern me.
MS. JACKSON: Okay. Thank you, Madame Chair.
I'll do Superfund first. I share your concern and I respect it. Obviously, more money, one would hope, would result in the end of the pipeline, the cleanups which everyone looks forward to speeding up. I think there are numerous factors and I think it bears further investigation. So I'll give you an answer for now, if you will --
SEN. BOXER: Okay.
MS. JACKSON: -- because I know you and Senator Lautenberg will demand it -- (laughs) -- as well you should, which is that we've certainly done a lot of the easier sites, so there's some argument to be made that some of the low-hanging, easier-to-clean-up sites have passed through the system. You might also be aware that the front end of the pipeline, the listing and assessment and listing and putting of sites on the Superfund list, has drastically been curtailed in recent years, and as a result, you don't see the number of sites and you don't see the variety of sites coming out. So easy sites aren't going on the list. We're not seeing cleanups.
We will certainly spend all the money allotted to us and we'll spend it early. So my concern isn't that we're somehow being slackers with respect to getting that money out on the street, creating jobs and doing cleanups. What that argues is that the sites are more complex. They take longer to clean up. We probably need to look at the Superfund pipeline and I probably need to get back to you and agree to work with you and this committee and certainly Senator Lautenberg on that particular issue. I do applaud my staff for being honest and giving us a real number so that we can ask hard questions.
On the DERA funding, the overall amount for the country is $60 million. I know you know that, Madame Chair. And the specific earmarks that have been made for the California Diesel Emission Reduction grants are not there. Obviously, the president's budget does not continue this earmark, as well as any others, and so while it is almost certainly, like other diesel emission-reduction grants, a very noble program, in keeping with the president's commitment to cut earmarks, that's what --
SEN. BOXER: Well, let me just follow up and say this: I could not disagree more with the president on calling it an earmark to put money into the places that have the worst air quality in the nation. I mean, that's ridiculous. You know, I think it's good government to go put the money where it is -- so I'm hopeful that we can get some language in here that we can agree on short of an earmark that says we intend for the money to go to the places where people are suffering the most. So we'll work together on this.
So I'll just conclude by saying, you know, you are, if I might just say, a breath of fresh air. And, you know, your honest answers are really appreciated. We are going to have our disagreements. We know that. So I'm going to fight hard for more Superfund funding, because that's the same answer the Bush administration gave us. And I don't buy it because, frankly, they put a lot of money in the "stim" to go clean up sites and nobody said, oh, well, it's a waste of money there.
So I just don't understand it. I don't get it. But we'll work with you very openly, we'll work with your staff, we'll work with Senator Lautenberg, and hopefully we can push hard to get more attention paid to these Superfund sites. These sites are hanging out there. They're a drag on the economy. They're a danger to our kids.
And on the diesel, again, maybe there's some way we can, without using the exact place that these funds should go, I just want to be sure, as the chairman here, that if the worst sites for these diesel emission problems is New Jersey, if it's -- I don't care where it is. I want it to go to those sites. And we'll work together.
SEN. BARRASSO: Well, thank you very much, Madame Chairman.
And I appreciated Senator Whitehouse's comments that we need lawful, fact-based regulation.
And I appreciate Ms. Jackson's comments that she wanted to make sure that we did this without overburdening small businesses and others.
And that brings to my concern, and the question, Ms. Jackson, about the EPA recent proposal finding greenhouse gases, as you said, are a danger to the public health and welfare. It really appears to me that that decision was based more on political calculation than on scientific ones.
In a memo that I received this morning, and it's marked "deliberative attorney-client privilege," nine pages, you are mentioned on every page of this memo. It is a White House memo. Counsel in this administration repeatedly -- repeatedly -- questions the lack of scientific support that you have for this proposed finding. It's here -- nine pages. This is a smoking gun saying that your findings were political, not scientific.
Here, Page 2: There is concern that the EPA is making a finding based on harm from substances that have no demonstrated direct health effects, such as respiratory or toxic effects. You then talk about regulating greenhouse gases and the economy.
Dow Jones newswire this morning: U.S. regulation of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, quote, "is likely to have serious economic consequences for business small and large across the economy." That's what a White House memo warned the Environmental Protection Agency earlier this year. Here it is: Making the decision to regulate carbon dioxide under the Clean Air Act for the first time is likely to have serious economic consequences for regulated entities throughout the U.S. economy, including small businesses and small communities.
How do you square that when you say "I don't want any overriding effect on the economy of small business?" But this own internal document, marked "deliberative attorney-client privilege," says everything you're proposing is going to have serious economic consequences for our businesses in this nation.
Charlie Munger, who was Warren Buffett's partner at Berkshire Hathaway, he was recently on CNBC. He said an artificial market and government-mandated carbon credits would be, quote, "monstrously stupid" to do right now. He added that the move is "almost demented" considering other nations' intention to continue industrial development, emitting vast amounts of greenhouse gases.
I could go on, but I am fascinated to see what you have been saying and yet to see what the White House has been writing and where you're on every page. Would you like to comment?
MS. JACKSON: Certainly I'd like to comment, Senator.
I don't have that document in front of me, so I'll comment generally on any of the issues you bring up.
SEN. WHITEHOUSE: Madame Chair, may I just inquire if the senator intends to make that document a matter of record? And, if so, I'd ask unanimous consent --
SEN. BARRASSO: With your permission, Madame Chairman, I would be happy to do that.
SEN. WHITEHOUSE: That way we both know what we're talking about and I'd appreciate it.
Thank you, Senator.
SEN. BOXER: Without objection, it will be in the record.
MS. JACKSON: I will answer briefly, Senator, because I suspect we will have this discussion many times.
I disagree with several of the characterizations. The first is that the endangerment finding is a scientific finding mandated by law, mandated by the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court ruled two years ago that EPA owed the American people a determination as to whether greenhouse gases, either in whole or individually, endanger public health and welfare. That analysis had been done, really, before I took the oath of office. We did review it, as I promised to do at my confirmation hearing. We reviewed the science of it. We went through interagency review through the White House, so again, I'm not sure what that document may say. It's deliberative, so obviously it's people's opinions. And it does not mean regulation.
I have said over and over, as has the president, that we do understand that there are costs to the economy of addressing global warming emissions and that the best way to address them is through a gradual move to a market-based program like cap and trade.
There is a difference between a cap and trade program, which can be authorized by legislation and is being discussed, and a regulatory program.
With respect to EPA's regulatory authority, it is true that if the endangerment finding is finalized, EPA would have authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. And what I've said in that regard is that we would be judicious, we would be deliberative, we would follow science, we would follow the law. And I would call your attention to our greenhouse gas registry rule, where we particularly didn't look for small businesses to register or have to report emissions. If you want an indication of where we know the significant sources of greenhouse gases are, they're in transportation and the utility sector.
SEN. BARRASSO: One last quick question, Madame Chairman, if I could.
Could you please explain, then, by what authority can the EPA decide to not include all of these other emitters of carbon dioxide who do reach the emission thresholds set out in the Clean Air Act? I mean, how can anyone in your administration decide where to draw that line? The law, as you just said, is clear. So how do you not go after everyone or expose yourself to lawsuits for all of those others?
MS. JACKSON: Senator, thanks.
I know that this has been an issue that we've gone back and forth on. It's one I look forward to having continued dialogue on if it comes to that point where we're into a regulatory mode on greenhouse gas emissions.
I will say only the following two things: I am not prepared here to outline a legal strategy; certainly it would be one of the things we would propose as part of a regulatory agenda. The second thing I would say is to remind you that we, under the Clean Air Act, have the potential to regulate all those sources you talk about now for other contaminants -- schools and hospitals and farms and Dunkin' Donuts. And we don't, because we use -- we make regulations smartly to address the threats in the best way possible and with an eye towards understanding that we don't want to unduly affect those who can least afford to pay.
So I do believe that the regulatory process allows us the opportunity to make those decisions and to do it, but we're not at that point yet.
SEN. BARRASSO: Thank you, Ms. Jackson.
Thank you, Madame Chairman.
SEN. BOXER: Thanks, Senator.
Senator, I just want to point out to you that they are under court order to act and this is a nation of laws and the endangerment finding that was made is strikingly similar to that that was made by the Bush administration because the science is so obvious. And the attack on the EPA is, I think, just not necessary right now. They're not doing it. They're just saying that they have the ability to act. We have the ability to act in a cap and trade system, which will give us the revenues to keep small businesses whole, to keep consumers whole. So you're fighting against something that's not there. But in any case, we will get on with this.
I just wanted to say for the record that Senator Lautenberg and I asked the GAO to investigate EPA's management of the Superfund program and the pace of the cleanups. We expect the results later this year. We will make them public. And at that point, we'll see what an objective source says about the pace of the cleanups. This is going to be an ongoing issue for us.
SEN. LAUTENBERG: Thanks.
Madame Chairman, we continue with this pingpong game with one side saying, well, listen, we've got to protect the health and the well-being of our families. We have an enormous cost for doing that, because, under the previous administration, health programs were starved but the budget deficit grew fat, lazy and indifferent. And we now have to dig our way out of that hole that was created by that. And so those who have a budgetary concern should express that.
But I would ask the question: Of those who called on the federal government -- again, I use the case of Katrina -- come in, give us money; we don't give a darn where you get that money, you've got to save our communities. And they didn't say, but wait a second, look at what we're going to do to the budget if we do that; it was just, "get us into the condition that we ought to be in."
And there are several questions, Madame Chairman, that I intend to submit to Ms. Jackson, but I'll tell you something. I get compliments regularly for the work that I do to protect the environment and health of children. It's a major focus of mine. And when we look at what was done in these past years, and we use corporate responsibility then as it existed, by looking at ExxonMobil, who, 15 years ago, roughly, had the spill up in Alaska, were fined, they paid the compensation; they were fined additionally $5 billion. And rather than pay the fine, which would be, to use the expression, a spit in the ocean compared to $10 billion dollars worth of earnings in their profit, and they employed lawyers year after year after year and finally they got that fine now reduced to a half a billion dollars. So it shows what the enemies of good thought in terms of the health and well-being of our children look like. So we can't be dissuaded from our mission and that is to protect the well-being of our families.
And so when I look at these things, Ms. Jackson, the budget proposes a significant funding increase for programs to help keep the public safe from dangerous chemicals. I applaud this increase. And I'm concerned that the EPA may not have the legal authority necessary to fully address the risks posed by industrial chemicals. Do you believe that the Toxic Substances Control Act needs to be reformed?
MS. JACKSON: Senator, I do agree that at this time there is a need to look at our authorities and to seriously consider revising and updating that law.
SEN. LAUTENBERG: So that we have things that we have to do to catch up with our allowable activities.
According to several studies, enforcement of environmental laws, the EPA fell significantly over the last eight years. There is additional funding provided in the budget. Will that be able to increase the enforcement to be able to challenge the polluters that there are consequences for their actions?
MS. JACKSON: Yes, Senator. I'm glad to note that there is an increase that allows us to add about 30 FTEs to our enforcement program. There's ($)60 million additional in the enforcement budget -- excuse me, ($)600 million in the enforcement budget.
You know, I'm a long-time believer in the importance of enforcement. It levels the playing field for companies across our country and it acts as a deterrent for future bad behavior, and I think that those are important roles that EPA has to play.
SEN. LAUTENBERG: Thank you.
Thank you, Madame Chairman.
SEN. BOXER: Thank you so much.
SEN. VITTER: Thank you, Madame Chair.
Madame Administrator, in light of the Appeals Court decision involving the new source review regulations, will you recommend that the agency permanently return to the old rules from prior decades, or will you support a new attempt at reforming those rules?
MS. JACKSON: Thank you, Senator. We are in the process of reviewing many NSR rule changes that came about. We've already indicated our agreement to relook at the aggregation rule and I believe we've indicated that we intend to look at other rules and their practices as well.
SEN. VITTER: What would you say is the general time frame for that?
MS. JACKSON: I couldn't give you a deadline, sir, but I would say that that review is ongoing and we are aware of the fact that there is a need for some regulatory certainty and so I would hope that we would look to complete that review in months, not years.
SEN. VITTER: Okay, and are there any areas of that new source review landscape where you're definitely not going to explore that but just revert essentially permanently to the old rules?
MS. JACKSON: I'm sure there are, Senator. I couldn't enumerate them. What we've said is that we're going to look at the rules as a whole, and there were several rule changes made, especially towards the end of the last administration, that we were bound to reconsider.
The NSR enforcement program, in my mind, remains an important one. It is based on a simple idea and one that has become complex, I think -- the rulemaking. So I do believe that there may be a need for changes. But I'm also sure there will be some aspects that will not change.
SEN. VITTER: Okay. A second topic: Do you think federal jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act should extend beyond navigable waters, and, if so, how or to what extent?
MS. JACKSON: I have been on record, Senator, as saying that I believe that we are in such a murky -- forgive the bad pun -- (laughs) -- area with respect to Clean Water Act jurisdiction that the best and easiest thing to do would be to have Congress clarify that jurisdiction. Through those two Supreme Court determinations, we find ourselves spending a majority of our resources looking to determine whether we have jurisdiction over a water body or wetland rather than on the permitting or enforcement in those water bodies and wetlands.
I know -- I'm well aware that they're --
SEN. VITTER: One way to do that is with the term navigable, which is and can be clearly defined. Is that where you would draw the line? Or where would you draw the line, and how would you define that jurisdiction?
MS. JACKSON: I have not -- a final position on that issue. I'm well aware that that's something that's being discussed in this committee and elsewhere. And I would look forward to having those discussions.
SEN. VITTER: Okay.
I think we all agree on the need for certainty and predictability and the benefit of that.
I would just suggest -- the law uses a word that is certain and can be predictable, at least if we clear up court cases with reference to it -- and that is, navigable water.
So getting clarity is one thing; significantly expanding jurisdiction is something different. So I look forward to continuing that discussion.
I applaud you and the administration for setting out, as a stated goal, transparency in all sorts of ways. There are a few things the EPA's been doing the last few years that I think were positive in that regard. One was holding regular management conversations between senior leaders and staff that were often broadcast on desktop computers for the whole agency.
Another was a report on the website regarding specific goal and action items and accomplishments, or lack thereof, under those goals.
Do you plan on continuing those specific things? Or what specific things with regard to the goal of transparency would you set out?
MS. JACKSON: I think those are both good management practice, Senator. And as soon as we have a little bit of -- a bit more time, I think you'll see us continuing those -- expanding.
We've already put out what's commonly referred to as our version of the fishbowl memo, which is considered sort of the gold standard, based on Administrator Ruckelshaus's idea that EPA should operate in a fishbowl. We've endorsed that idea.
My schedule is now up on the Internet so that people can see where I am and who I'm meeting with. I've encouraged and actually insisted that my senior staff do the same.
I like your ideas, and I think that they would be -- I would happily embrace them and others.
SEN. VITTER: Great. Well, I'd point out those two specific ideas and ask if you could follow up with us on that.
Also, with regard to your schedule, Miss, sometimes there're items like "staff briefing," with no subject matter, or "meeting with administration officials," with no topic or list of participants, and I'd suggest that's, you know, not -- doesn't particularly say anything. So if you all could put a level of detail there that says something meaningful, I think that would round out that initiative.
And finally, I just ask unanimous consent to submit Senator Inhofe's opening statement for the record.
SEN. BOXER: Without objection.
And if I might say, Senator Vitter, the Clean Water Restoration Act, that you asked about -- the Rapanos decision -- Senator Feingold has written a bill; I'm a co-sponsor of it. A couple of members on my side would like to amend that. And I know some members on your side would as well.
We are working hard with Senator Feingold and with CEQ and -- to see what we can come up with. So I wanted to assure you that we are going to have a bill up for markup in the near future on that, because I think everyone agrees we need clarification.
Now, your idea of how to clarify it and mine will, no doubt, be different. But we'll debate that out. But that will be coming in the next several weeks.
I believe it was Senator Whitehouse who's next.
SEN. WHITEHOUSE: Thank you, Madame Chair.
One point and one question -- the point follows up a little bit on my opening statement.
For as long as there's been pollution there has been a constant battle with polluters who don't want to pay the cost of their pollution, either preventing it or cleaning it up. They'd like to just dump it and have it be somebody else's problem. There's absolutely nothing new about that. Polluters don't want to pay.
What's new is our understanding of what the costs are of carbon pollution -- economic costs, environmental costs, wildlife and habitat costs and, as we've discovered, very significant national security costs. And in the context of that battle of the polluters not wanting to pay, I'd like to ask unanimous consent to add to the record of this hearing an article entitled "Lobbying: Energy Companies' Utilities Spent Nearly $80 Million in First Quarter."
Some of the highlights of this are that all environmental groups, combined, in the first quarter, spent a grand total of $4.7 million on lobbying. The Nature Conservancy was the top environmental group, and it spent $850,000 this far.
By comparison, ExxonMobil Corp alone in the first quarter has spent more than $9.3 million; Chevron Corp, $6.8 million; ConocoPhillips, $6 million; BP $3.6 million; Marathon Oil, $3.4 million. Just from big oil, I add that up to a total of $29.1 million. The total of all oil and gas companies is roughly $44.6 million just in this first quarter.
So if we wonder why the Senate is the last place in America that still doesn't get it that climate change is a real problem for our people and that carbon pollution is something that people should pay for when they emit it -- big utilities, big industry -- gee, connect the dots.
The question that I have has to do with the Clean Water Restoration Act. I've heard over and over again about the farmer with the pond who's going to water his cattle in the pond, and now there's going to be a EPA agent staked out by the pond so that before any cow walks into the pond and muddies those waters, they'll need a permit -- seems a little improbable. It's sort of one of those urban myths that has developed. Could you tell us a little bit about what your strategy will be for farms that have ponds for watering cattle and horses and livestock?
MS. JACKSON: Well, thanks, Senator.
You know, there are -- and I think actually, the sponsors -- Congressman Oberstar, Senator Feingold -- have already had lots of dialogue with the Farm Bureau and with the farming community members to ensure them that their goal here in trying to clarify jurisdiction is not to ensnare agriculture, farmers in a whole new set of regulations but to be -- to use common sense.
It is not our intention to worry about the whereabouts of every single cow. And there is lots of precedent that exempts farm operations. And in fact, the plain language already developed would make it clear that this imposes no new requirements on farm operations. There are certainly requirements now on farm operations, on agribusiness, as you know.
So that is not an issue. It has been used, in my mind, as a distraction to lobby against the very real need for a clarification of jurisdiction.
SEN. WHITEHOUSE: The family farmer with the cattle pond can rest assured.
MS. JACKSON: Yes. Please help me ensure them.
SEN. WHITEHOUSE: Thank you.
SEN. BOXER: Thank you, Senator.
SEN. UDALL: Thank you, Madame Chair.
Administrator Jackson, I'd like to draw your attention to a very important EPA project that affects New Mexico and Arizona and the Navajo Nation.
The EPA sponsored a cleanup of contaminated sites in the Navajo Nation due to uranium mining. This is a multiregion project with significant EPA funding. So it's important for us that EPA headquarters is supportive.
EPA is responsible for cleaning contaminated homes, water sources, abandoned mines on the Navajo Nation. It's absolutely critical that EPA see this site through, because recently there has been discussion about starting uranium mining-- restarting uranium mining in the West. And it would be tragic, I think, to start creating new environmental issues on the Navajo Nation in the 21st century before we uphold our commitments to clean up the legacy from the 20th century.
Will you commit to continuing the EPA cleanup of uranium sites on the Navajo Nation until the job is complete?
MS. JACKSON: Yes, Senator, we will stay the course and finish the job.
As you know, there is an additional $7.8 million for the Superfund removal program to clean up high-priority abandoned uranium mines, waste piles and home sites, and to sample irrigation and livestock wells on the Navajo Nation.
EPA has already assessed more than 100 structures. We'll work with the Navajo Nation to screen an additional 100 mines this year. And we've already assessed 200 wells.
SEN. UDALL: Thank you. And let me -- your budget that you have presented has significant increases for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund and also the Safe Drinking Water State Revolving Fund.
But if you go out into the future and you look at the needs -- you know, your agency's done an assessment of the overall needs, and the needs, the long-term needs assessment is a lot higher than the money that we're putting towards this. And I applaud the administration and you for increasing those budgets. But what do you think the strategy should be down the road to deal with these huge needs that don't appear to be met on a yearly basis of the budgets we have right now?
MS. JACKSON: Well, I think that we have sort of a two-prong strategy at EPA. The first is to show and to demonstrate that the Recovery Act money -- that $6 billion slug plus now this slug of money in the president's budget -- that we can spend it wisely, that we can help to move communities across the country and rural communities, particularly, who have affordability problems with trying to fund this work on their own -- with getting this money.
I do think we need to look, going forward, at the size of the need, recognize that oftentimes it's rural communities who can't come up with the ability to make a loan, so they need additional help from the federal government. It's something that came up in my confirmation hearing, and I think it's an unanswered question, one I'd like to work with you on and other members of this committee through the chair.
SEN. UDALL: Thank you. And I very much appreciate you looking out for those small, rural communities, because they really do have a hard time, whether it comes to water quality or wastewater infrastructure. I mean, they're the ones that are really struggling.
Thank you, Madame Chair.
SEN. BOXER: Thank you.
SEN. KLOBUCHAR: I'm back.
Administrator Jackson, it's good to see you.
The 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act mandates the production of $36 billion of biofuels by 2022. Last year, ethanol was used to displace over 9 billion gallons of gasoline in our nation's transportation system.
Cellulosic ethanol, as we discussed before, could raise per-acre ethanol yields to more than 1,000 gallons, significantly reducing the land requirements. I see cellulosic as the future of biofuels, but we still have to move from small-scale to large-scale production.
Ms. Jackson, how important of a role do you see for biofuels in the overall effort to reduce global warming emissions from gasoline and other fossil-based transportation fuels?
MS. JACKSON: Biofuels play an important and critical role, Senator. They have the potential, as long as we follow the science and do it right, to literally have the impact of removing millions of cars off our highways, of addressing not only global warming pollution but other pollutants as well.
And as the president has said, the existing infrastructure, those private investors and entrepreneurs who took the risk of investing in ethanol when the country asked them to, should be there and their infrastructure need to remain so that it's there to support the next- generation biofuels, because most of that infrastructure can be retrofitted with support.
EPA's role in that process is to speak honestly and in a science- based way about -- to make sure we're moving to the right fuels, and at the same time, protecting, if you will, the current infrastructure.
SEN. KLOBUCHAR: Thank you very much.
As you know, the EPA allows ethanol blends in gasoline of up to 10 percent by volume. Under the current Renewable Fuels Standard we're likely to hit the so-called blend wall in the near future.
The blend wall, as you know, is the maximum possible volume of ethanol that can be blended into motor gasoline at a 10 percent concentration. The EPA and the Department of Energy are currently conducting tests on E15 and E20, allowing up to 15 percent and 20 percent ethanol in a gallon of gas by volume. The results will be published by the end of the year.
Meanwhile, a group of those pushing for increased biofuels filed a petition with the EPA in March of 2009 requesting an increase in the ethanol blend from 10 to 15 percent. This process is likely to take as long as 270 days to move through the regulatory process.
Would you consider recommending a short-term increase in the level of ethanol blend -- say, to E11 or E12 -- to help prevent this technology from hitting a ceiling before a decision is made on E15?
MS. JACKSON: Senator, EPA is currently in the middle of a request for information and comment on the growth energy petition for a increase in the blend up to 15 percent ethanol in gasoline.
We are eagerly looking forward to data that comes in domestically and from abroad on whether those materials, up to 15 percent, can be blended -- whether ethanol can be blended at some level above its current 10 percent. It would be wrong of me to prejudge that process. The most important thing is to follow the data.
I also want to call you attention to the president's recent development of a biofuels task force. It includes myself, Secretary Vilsack, and Secretary Chu, and applaud his recognition that there are more issues than just what the actual blend number is. But there's distribution, there are warranty issues, there are consumer education issues that need to be addressed in order to make sure that this fuel that we're producing has an outlet.
SEN. KLOBUCHAR: And I appreciate that, because you can have the fuel, and then if you don't have the vehicles that are compatible with that fuel there is an issue. And then if you don't have the pumps, that's another one.
Senator Boxer, do you mind if I do one more?
SEN. BOXER: No, go ahead.
SEN. KLOBUCHAR: Administrator Jackson, last week your agency released a proposed rule for implementing the Renewable Fuel Standard as part of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. The rule deals with all aspects of RFS implementation, including greenhouse gas emissions for all fuels covered by the RFS.
One area of particular concern in my state is the issue of life cycle greenhouse gas emissions. I understand the EPA is looking at both in -- direct greenhouse gas emissions and indirect emissions from land use changes.
It is the proposal to measure indirect emissions that is causing concern. And I know you believe in basing things on science. We are concerned that this is speculative to look at this, and it would be very difficult to do on an evidence-based method. And I'd just like to know -- ask you to look carefully at this analysis and that you will not include indirect land use calculations if the analysis shows that such a calculation is speculative and is not evidence-based.
MS. JACKSON: Absolutely, Senator. In fact, in releasing the rule for comment we also initiated a peer-review science process of specifically those issues regarding indirect land use and international impacts. And I look forward to results of that review as well as the public comment period.
SEN. KLOBUCHAR: All right. And I'm sure we'll be talking more about this in the future.
MS. JACKSON: Thank you.
SEN. BOXER: Thank you very much.
Administrator, I have three brief questions, but they're important. And then I'm going to ask -- Senator Merkley, would you come and sit up here, because I'm going to have you complete the hearing.
What's your time frame, Administrator, that you need to leave? Because I know you're under pressure.
MS. JACKSON: And I never know where I'm supposed to be.
(Aside.) What time do we have to get out of here? (Laughs.)
I think I have to be in Mount Vernon at noontime, so --
SEN. BOXER: Okay. So that means you need to get out now. Okay.
MS. JACKSON: We'll work --
SEN. BOXER: So --
MS. JACKSON: Madame Chair, whatever --
SEN. BOXER: Let me just ask these three questions; then Senator Merkley will close it.
And I also have other questions for the record.
Administrator Jackson, I'll ask you all three, so just take some copious notes on this.
Chromium 6 is a heavy metal that's contaminated drinking water supplies in California.
Erin Brockovich fought for people who drank water contaminated with Chrome 6.
An '08 study shows that Chrome 6 can cause cancer when ingested. In 2002, EPA had delayed deciding whether to toughen Chromium's drinking water standard. Could you tell me the status of EPA's effort to revise the drinking water status for Chromium?
And my second question is toxic air in schools. You were my heroine because you made a promise you were going to begin to collect monitoring data. And I wanted to ask you what you anticipate accomplishing in the monitoring program during 2010? What's your goal?
And on coal ash: At your confirmation we discussed the need for EPA to address the threat posed by coal combustion waste disposal practices. The TVA's devastating coal ash spill is one of the biggest examples of the risk posed by this coal waste.
EPA recently announced it was reviewing the safety of ash impoundments and considering regulating ash disposal.
Can you tell me the status of EPA's efforts on regulating coal ash disposal, determining the safety of coal waste impoundments and cleaning up the TVA's coal ash spill?
MS. JACKSON: Sure, Madame Chair. I will start with the last first, but I do have notes on all.
On coal ash, I've promised proposed regulations by the end of the calendar year, and we are on track to meet that goal. In fact, our announcement just yesterday that we were inserting ourselves into the TVA cleanup I think will give us important information that can be used in that rulemaking for coal ash impoundments across the country.
We also, as you know, have sent out a request for information to utilities to find where the -- as you had put them earlier -- ticking time bombs might be. We found some, and not only that, but we identified some additional ones that the utilities identified. So we're still in information gathering there.
SEN. BOXER: When will you announce the results of your investigation?
MS. JACKSON: I don't have a date, but I will get that back to you, Madame.
SEN. BOXER: But you're saying by the end of the year you will have recommendations?
MS. JACKSON: No, we'll have a regulatory proposal --
SEN. BOXER: You will?
MS. JACKSON: -- out for public --
SEN. BOXER: Proposal. And so I'm assuming by the end of the year you will also have made the assessment of what big a problem this might be.
MS. JACKSON: Certainly. And hopefully before that.
SEN. BOXER: Okay.
All right. Very good.
Just so you know, the committee is doing its own investigation on this matter. We'll let you know of our discoveries as well.
MS. JACKSON: Yeah, that would be very helpful
SEN. BOXER: We will.
MS. JACKSON: Thank you.
And obviously we'd love to share information there.
On the Schools Monitoring Initiative, you know that we are already monitoring at 62 schools in 22 states. We're requesting $3.3 million and five FTE in this FY '10 budget. There's about a 60-day window, so we're actually getting to the end, where we'll start to get some results.
We've promised as quick a turnaround as we can. And I'm happy to share those results with the committee as we get them.
SEN. BOXER: Please.
MS. JACKSON: Obviously, also most important to share them with the parents and the school administrators who are eagerly --
SEN. BOXER: Please. I think it's really important, because I wouldn't wait for an artificial date. If you -- it's like -- Administrator, if I could say this: If it was the FDA -- if you were the FDA and you found out that there was a prescription drug out there that was harming people, you wouldn't wait till you've figured it all -- you know, finished the whole study. You immediately, ethically have to say -- if you find that there's a school that's dangerous and you know it now, please -- I think it's key to take action.
Can I count on you to do that?
MS. JACKSON: Absolutely.
SEN. BOXER: Excellent. Okay.
And Chromium 6 was my --
MS. JACKSON: Chromium 6 -- EPA is still reviewing its data. It's coordinating with Cal/EPA, with my former home at the New Jersey DEP, and with CDC and ATSDR. I don't have a date for you, Madame Chair, but I will push to get one to your staff.
SEN. BOXER: Please do.
And we'll send the rest of our questions in.
And Senator Merkley, I'm going to ask you to chair the rest of the hearing and if anybody comes in to call on them. Otherwise you can close it down when you're done -- without a time limit.
SEN. JEFF MERKLEY (D-OR): Thank you very much, Madame Chair. I'm pleased to do so.
And I thank you very much for joining us today and for doing so much in a very short period of time to take on such important environmental issues.
I wanted to simply ask, in the context of questions that have preceded me today, how important is it that we as a nation really dive in and tackle carbon dioxide and other global warming gases?
MS. JACKSON: Well, as the endangerment finding proposal says, you know, CO2 and the other five gases we evaluate pose a threat to this generation and to future generations.
And there is an urgent need for us to get into this game in a big way, as a country, to address it and to do it in a way that is also mindful of our economy, our current economic situations but also for selfish reasons. The race for clean energy is on. And if we don't jump in in a big way, and climate change is certainly part of that equation, we're going to be passed by by others in the world who are jumping on before us.
SEN. MERKLEY: So some have said that, given the nation's economy right now, that we should delay our work. But it's sounding to me like you're saying we will miss a critical opportunity to strengthen our economy.
MS. JACKSON: Absolutely. The race to the clean energy future is on. I've heard Secretary Chu at the Department of Energy call it, you know -- liken it to the Internet boom of the last decade. And if we're not in it in a big way, and we're not bringing American innovation and willingness to roll up our sleeves and get it done to bear, I worry that we're going to miss a tremendous opportunity.
SEN. MERKLEY: I want to try to understand the most cost- effective way, because we want to get as much done as possible with the least cost and strengthen our economy.
Is it more effective for us to simply passed rules that restrain every single source of carbon dioxide, or at least all the major source of carbon dioxide? Or is it more cost-effective to allow one producer to say, hey, it costs me, if you will, a million dollars to reduce quantity X, but someone else a quarter million dollars, and we should work to create a market so that we can get more done for less?
MS. JACKSON: A market-based mechanism is more effective. And it's not only more economically effective, it can be more environmentally effective because it quickly puts a price on carbon that business can assess and make a determination of how best to address.
SEN. MERKLEY: Thank you.
I want to turn to -- and I appreciate for your bringing that to our attention. I believe that the market-based approach is not a completely new invention, that we used it with some effectiveness on sulfur dioxide and acid rain. Do we have some experience with that?
MS. JACKSON: That's right. EPA certainly has quite a bit of national experience in its SO2 program, its acid rain program. That program was found to be a very cost-effective way -- much cheaper than estimates and much cheaper than industry forecasts, by the way -- of reducing SO2 pollution and having a dramatic impact on acid rain and on the health of our forests and in the central and eastern part of the United States.
SEN. MERKLEY: Well, I do recognize that carbon dioxide and methane gas -- it's more complicated picture than sulfur dioxide. But despite that greater complexity, this tool would be suitable for use?
MS. JACKSON: Yes, absolutely, Senator.
SEN. MERKLEY: Okay. Thank you.
One important issue to Oregon -- as it is to many states -- is the Superfund program. And the program has a modest increase in your budget.
The Portland harbor is one example of a major, major Superfund cleanup. There have been times that folks working on that project in Oregon have been somewhat frustrated.
For example, one company received an 82-question information request asking to identify potentially responsible parties, with questions going back to 1937. The company has spent $100,000 responding and expects their final response to total more than 1 million pages. And this is a company that's already identified itself as being involved in appositive way with the cleanup. Are there ways that we can reduce the -- I guess the paperwork and increase the action on the Superfund site itself?
MS. JACKSON: Certainly. And I do believe that there are opportunities for us always to make sure that we are moving as quickly on the cleanup front as we are on the enforcement front. I'm happy to look into that particular matter for you, Senator.
It sounds a bit as though we're actually trying to find additional people to help pay for the cleanup, which is a good thing. But we need to balance that against actually getting the cleanup done.
And so I'm happy to look into it for you.
SEN. MERKLEY: Okay. Thank you very much.
There are some recent Supreme Court decisions that have affected the scope of the Clean Water Act's jurisdiction -- made the jurisdiction a little bit murky. And that would affect a number of important rivers and streams in Oregon, with potential loss of Clean Water Act protections. Is this one your agency is familiar with and is working on? Is it a way to dive in, in terms of implementation activities, enforcement activities? How will it be -- how will the work of your agency be affected?
MS. JACKSON: Yeah, the current situation has us spending more of our time trying to determine whether we have jurisdiction than we do actually working on actual permits or enforcement cases. So the administrative burden is quite high. I've said before and I -- I said before you joined us that I believe that the most efficient solution would be a legislative one, a statutory one. Since we've landed where we are through a series of -- through two Supreme Court decisions, which were in and of themselves somewhat murky because they were split decisions -- and so, we're operating on fairly shaky ground. It would be very helpful to have legislative clarification of jurisdiction issues.
SEN. MERKLEY: Well, thank you very much.
It's a pleasure to have you, Administrator Jackson, and the work you're doing. And I certainly look forward to working with you and all the work that you're doing on green energy and the economy.
I do ask unanimous consent of the committee to enter into the record the document that Senator Whitehouse discussed earlier in the hearing.
Hearing no objections -- (laughter) -- so ordered.
Thank you all very much. And we'll bring this committee hearing to a close.
Thank you. (Sounds gavel.)