Excerpt from EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson’s letter on the impacts of sequestration
Letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee dated Feb. 6, 2013:
- ENERGY STAR is relied upon by millions of Americans and thousands of companies to save money and protect the environment through energy efficient products and practices. Results are already adding up. Americans, with the help of ENERGY STAR, prevented 210 million metric tons of GHG [greenhouse gas] emissions in 2011 alone – equivalent to the annual emissions from 41 million vehicles – and reduced their utility bills by $23 billion.
- Under sequestration, there would be three specific impacts that could jeopardize, delay or impair further progress: (1) EPA’s ability to keep ENERGY STAR product specifications up to date across more than 65 categories would slow down, including electronics, appliances and home heating and cooling systems; (2) EPA would have to reduce the number of energy-intensive industrial sectors it works with to develop energy performance indicators and Energy Efficiency Guides; and (3) EPA would reduce support for our Portfolio Manager, both the planned upgrade and our ability to support its users, including the approximately 10 major cities and states as well as the federal government, which use the tool in emissions and energy disclosure and benchmarking policies.
- Before new vehicles can be sold in the United States, EPA must first certify that they are in compliance with emissions standards.
- Sequestration would harm EPA’s ability to confirm in a timely manner that manufacturers are complying with all vehicle emission standards and creates the risk that some manufacturers would be delayed in their ability to certify their products. Without this certification, they would be unable to sell these products in the United States, thus depriving car-buyers access to the latest vehicles and potentially harming vehicle sales and the economy.
State Air Monitors
- Air quality monitoring is vital to the protection of public health from harmful air pollution.
- Sequestration would reduce the funding EPA provides states to monitor air quality, likely forcing the shutdown of some critical air monitoring sites. Lost monitoring for high priority pollutants such as ozone and fine particles would impact the collection of data necessary for determining whether areas of the country meet, or do not meet, the Clean Air Act’s health-based standards.
- Sequestration would force the Agency to eliminate or significantly reduce essential air quality data systems like AIRNow, a popular air quality reporting and forecasting system. Americans that have or care for individuals with respiratory and cardiac health issues rely on AIRNow for information about when to take action to avoid health impacts from air pollution. The Agency would eliminate upgrades for the Emission Inventory and Air Quality Systems – the Agency would only fund operations for these systems. These systems store and process air quality monitoring and emissions data from across the nation that informs EPA, state, tribal, and local air agencies’ decisions on steps needed to improve air quality. Without this monitoring data, future improvements in air quality would be hampered or delayed.
Enforcement and Compliance Programs
Civil and Criminal Enforcement
Americans expect their government to protect them from violations of the nation’s environmental laws that could harm their families and impact the safety and prosperity of their communities. Sequestration’s reduction to EPA’s enforcement budget would:
- Reduce EPA’s ability to monitor compliance with environmental laws – as fewer environmental cops are on the “beat” to enforce environmental laws (note implementation of the sequester could result in 1,000 fewer inspections in FY2013.)
- Limit EPA’s capacity to identify toxic air emissions, water discharges, and other sources of pollution that directly affect public health and the environment.
National Environmental Policy Act
- EPA’s comments on environmental reviews are required by law and help to ensure that federal agencies understand the potential environmental impacts and have considered alternatives to proposed projects on federal lands. Sequestration would reduce support for environmental reviews and could slow the approval of transportation and energy related projects.
Superfund enforcement ensures that responsible parties pay for necessary and often costly cleanups at the nation’s most polluted sites. Sequestration would cut work to press responsible parties to clean up contaminated sites in communities and restore clean up funds for use at other sites – putting the costs back on the American public. (Note: estimated $100 million loss in clean-up commitments and cost reimbursements to the government).
- Senate Appropriations Committee: Letter from EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson on the impacts of sequestration – Feb. 2013 (PDF)
- WhatTheFolly.com: 5 key facts about sequestration
- WhatTheFolly.com: Analysis: Impact of sequestration on non-defense discretionary spending