Rep. Mike Simpson, the top Republican on a key budget-writing subcommittee, says he has "forcefully communicated" to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson the concerns of Idaho cities about what he says are unreasonable clean water standards.
Simpson's press release on the subject is titled, "Simpson Grills EPA Administrator on Clean Water Act Regulations."
The press release, issued after a committee meeting Thursday, follows, in full:
Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson, who is Ranking Member on the Interior Appropriations Subcommittee, grilled EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson on the unfunded mandate placed on cities under the Clean Water Act. Last week Congressman Simpson met with mayors and community leaders throughout Idaho, many of whom expressed their frustration with the EPA’s unreasonable clean water standards that they are struggling to meet. Simpson forcefully communicated these concerns to Administrator Jackson during Interior Appropriations Subcommittee hearing on the EPA budget for FY11.
“One thing I heard time and time again when I was home was the dramatic impact EPA is having on Idaho communities,” said Simpson. “Mayors throughout our state are at their wit’s end trying to meet EPA’s standards under the Clean Water Act and are forced to make difficult and even impossible budget decisions to do so. Some cities are so frustrated that they are prepared to hand EPA the keys to the city. No agency should have this kind of control over local governments.”
Simpson also had the opportunity to meet with EPA Region X Administrator Dennis McLerran to share with him the concerns he has heard from local leaders in Idaho. During the meeting they discussed struggles that Boise and other Treasure Valley communities face in meeting federal phosphorus requirements. In spite of the cities’ willingness to find innovative solutions to address this issue, the EPA continues to insist on outrageously expensive measures to reduce phosphorus discharges into the Boise River.
“Regarding the phosphorus issue specifically, do you believe results are the primary goal of the EPA in its enforcement measures,” asked Simpson, “or are you equally interested in forcing communities to meet standards in the EPA’s preferred method instead of using innovative or unique methods for meeting goals?”
“I understand that the EPA has laws and regulations to enforce, but it seems to me that this is getting to a point of ridiculousness,” Simpson vented to Administrator Jackson during the hearing. “Here we have small, rural communities where the cost of complying with EPA’s standards is forcing citizens to pay 20% of their income for water and sewer, and the EPA is insisting that they spend tens of millions of dollars to reduce arsenic levels from eleven parts per billion to ten. Administrator, have we ever heard of a cost-benefit analysis? Idaho communities have simply run out of options.”
Simpson is working on legislation that would allow small communities opt out of federal arsenic standards. To watch Congressman Simpson’s comments during the hearing, click http://www.youtube.com/CongMikeSimpson#p/a/u/0/WDws86byq68