Chairwoman Napolitano's Statement from the Subcommittee’s First Hearing in a Series on President Biden’s Fiscal Year 2022 Budget Request
WASHINGTON, DC - House Transportation and Infrastructure Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee Chairwoman Grace F. Napolitano (D-El Monte) delivered the following opening statement during today's hearing titled, “President Biden’s Fiscal Year 2022 Budget Request: Agency Policies and Perspectives (Part 1):”
Today, we will discuss the president’s fiscal year 2022 budget request and other policy goals and objectives of the Biden administration.
Let me start by commending the Biden administration for restoring critical funding and respect to the agencies under the jurisdiction of this Subcommittee and recognizing the essential role that these agencies play in addressing the critical water resources and human health needs of our communities.
As we all remember, the previous administration tried to singlehandedly gut the expertise and authorities of Federal agencies, both by systematically trying to roll-back environmental protections, as well as by slashing agency funding to prevent hard working federal employees from doing the job that we directed them to do, and that provides critical economic, environmental, and public health benefits to the American people.
This year, it is refreshing to see that President Biden’s budget request restores the funding levels that are necessary to accomplish the important work of all the agencies under this subcommittee’s jurisdiction.
This request would provide funding for critical Army Corps of Engineers projects across the country, which will provide communities with flood protection, water supply, and environmental restoration. I am pleased to see this request includes sufficient funds to complete a dam safety project at Whittier Narrows.
For the Corps, the fiscal year 2022 budget request represents the largest single budget request for the Corps in its history.
The budget also calls for the largest transfer of critical navigation maintenance funds from the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund. These dollars will fund operation and maintenance projects at our coastal ports which strongly support our economy and keep us globally competitive. Such projects will be essential as we come out of the covid-19 pandemic which had devastating impacts on our export economy.
The budget request also maintains funding for agencies with large regional impacts, like the International Boundary and Water Commission. These agencies have an important role to play in managing water supplies in the Southwest, for keeping our border waters clean, safe, and reliable, and for implementing aspects of drought contingency plans with Mexico and Western states on the Colorado River.
At the same time, the administration is now reviewing the nearly 100 environmental rules that were weakened or revoked altogether by the previous administration. Today, I hope to hear your plans to correct these wrongdoings and return to the protection of our environment and resources, rather than the protection of polluters and their bottom lines.
The reality is Americans know that protecting our waters creates economic growth with healthy communities and clean water for residential and business use.
As the Administration looks at the many environmental protections that have been attacked over the last four years, there are certainly some priority areas for this subcommittee. Overall, we need to ensure the protection of our waterways and the availability of clean water for every community.
For example, I was heartened to hear that the Biden administration proposes to replace the Dirty Water Rule – which was the single largest rollback in clean water protections in the history of the Clean Water Act. However, I remain concerned that every day the Dirty Water Rule remains in place, additional waters (including seasonal rivers and streams in the West and wetlands across the country) are being polluted, degraded, or destroyed.
We will also need to address rules which failed to protect children from toxic chemicals, such as the Coal Ash Storage Rule and the Steam Electric effluent guidelines rule. These weakened rules will have devastating impacts on families near facilities that produce such toxic pollution, and communities even beyond them.
We also need to address rules which failed to give communities a voice or choice in highly impactful projects. Whether the project is pipelines that may cut through entire communities, or open-pit mines that threaten their natural resources or way of life, we cannot leave minority, rural, or tribal voices out of the conversation.
Today, I look forward to hearing from our witnesses on your budget priorities and learning how you are planning to restore your offices to their sworn duties and mission areas that were so neglected over the past four years.