VIDEO RELEASE: Merkley Underscores Importance of Climate, Environmental Justice, and EPA Rebuilding in Appropriations Subcommittee Hearing With EPA Administrator Regan

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Oregon’s U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley—who serves as the chairman of the Senate Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee—convened an appropriations hearing to discuss the crucial need to provide the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with the robust FY22 funding it requires to tackle America’s urgent problems of climate chaos, environmental injustice, crumbling water infrastructure, and plastic pollution.

Testifying before the Subcommittee was EPA Administrator Michael Regan.

“President Biden received a resounding mandate from the American people to get to work building the foundation our families and communities need to be healthy and thrive. That foundation must include environmental justice, clean air, clean water, and a plan to tackle climate chaos,” said Chairman Merkley. “I look forward to continuing to work alongside my colleagues and this administration to ensure that those investments become a reality, so that every American—regardless of the color of their skin, their zip code, or their income—can breathe clean air, drink clean water, and know that our environment is being protected for future generations.”

During the hearing, Chairman Merkley voiced support for the $1.8 billion in climate and environmental justice efforts included in President Biden’s EPA budget proposal—much needed annual funding to complement the one-time investments proposed in the president’s American Jobs Plan. The president’s proposed budget for EPA included a 6-fold increase in staffing at the EPA’s Office of Environmental Justice, and $140 million in grant funding for environmental justice initiatives by non-profits, states, tribes, and research institutions.  In addition to those initiatives, Merkley supports the administration’s request for additional resources to support the agency’s air programs, including the Clean Air and Climate program, toxic chemicals program, and enforcement and compliance programs.

Chairman Merkley also made the case for rebuilding EPA following years of budget and staff cuts that hobbled the agency’s ability to carry out its mission. To that end, Merkley pressed during the hearing to build agency capacity through steps like the administration’s proposal to increase staff levels by 1,000—a portion of workforce lost over the last decade—to help ensure the agency can tackle urgent challenges like climate, crumbling water infrastructure, and plastics pollution.

A video recording of the hearing is available here.