Republicans Critical of Increased Spending and Lack of Prioritization in NOAA, EPA Budget Proposals

Mar 6, 2012

Washington D.C. – Today the Subcommittee on Energy and Environment held a hearing to examine the Administration’s Fiscal Year 2013 (FY13) budget requests for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Science and Technology (S&T) Programs.

“Only in Washington, as we face an unprecedented fiscal train wreck and continue to be forced to borrow 40 cents on the dollar, can a requested budget increase of 3.1 percent for NOAA and 1.4 percent for EPA be characterized as making ‘tough choices,’” said Subcommittee Chairman Andy Harris (R-MD).  “The Administration is prioritizing its political environmental agendas ahead of the core scientific needs of the nation.”

The President’s FY13 budget request for NOAA is $5.06 billion. However, the Agency failed to deliver its detailed congressional budget justifications to the Committee, making it difficult to examine program percentage increases and decreases for many of the Agency’s activities. Chairman Harris criticized NOAA Administrator Dr. Jane Lubchenco for the extreme tardiness in providing Congress with this critical information. “This abdication of such a simple responsibility influences the perception on the Hill that the Administration is not being a good steward of taxpayer money,” Harris said.

Responding to a question about a possible gap in observational weather satellite data, Dr. Lubchenco admitted that the Administration failed to develop alternative plans to provide this critical information.  Republicans questioned relative priorities within NOAA, including a 15 percent increase in funding for climate research in lieu of investments in weather programs that could protect lives and property.

The President’s FY13 budget request for EPA is $8.34 billion, with the S&T account representing $807.3 million, a majority of which would go to the EPA’s Office of Research and Development (ORD).  Republicans today expressed skepticism about the quality of science at EPA.

“Instead of conducting fundamental environmental research, the Agency sacrifices sober analysis in favor of the outcome-driven science demanded by the President’s anti-energy agenda,” Harris said. “All too often, what passes for peer review of Agency science is a rubber stamp by supposedly independent scientific advisors, who also happen to be recipients of EPA’s largesse.”

Committee Members questioned ORD Acting Assistant Administrator, Mr. Lek Kadeli, on a number of issues. Citing “questionable actions” by the EPA in investigating water quality concerns, Chairman Harris said, “I have little confidence in EPA’s ability to conduct trusted, quality science in this area, and as such cannot support the significant expansion of hydraulic fracturing research called for in this request.”

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