Mr. Forgetful strikes again

Mr. Forgetful strikes again

By Steve Benen – Fri May 3, 2013 4:05 PM EDT

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House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) hosted a town-hall meeting in his district this week, and heard from a constituent who works for the Environmental Protection Agency. Racine resident David Novak explained that, thanks to the sequestration cuts, he’s lost thousands of dollars in income for no reason, and he’s set to lose even more.

The constituent wanted an explanation. Ryan tried to give him one.

“This was is something the president has done through the Budget Control Act. We didn’t like it so we passed two bills to replace it. Twice. I passed a bill twice. I passed a bill in December that said instead of doing the sequester, here’s how the government should cut to pay for it. They rejected it. Continue reading “Mr. Forgetful strikes again”

Union: EPA plans agencywide furlough days under sequestration

Union: EPA plans agencywide furlough days under sequestration

 Thursday – 2/21/2013, 5:36pm EST

If sequestration goes into effect, the Environmental Protection Agency is planning at least three agencywide mandatory furlough days that would essentially result in a temporary shutdown of the agency, according to union officials briefed on the plans.

The across-the-board budget cuts — which will slash all civilian agency budgets by about 5 percent — are slated to kick in next week.

EPA will implement employee furloughs in two phases, according to John J. O’Grady, the president of AFGE Local 704, which covers the Chicago region. Continue reading “Union: EPA plans agencywide furlough days under sequestration”

Sequester Threatens Superfund, Air Pollution, Oil Spill Oversight

February 21, 2013

Sequester Threatens Superfund, Air Pollution, Oil Spill Oversight

Superfund enforcement, air pollution monitoring and oversight of oil spills are all under threat from the severe budget cuts known as the sequester, which is scheduled to take effect in just over a week if the federal government does not act to avoid it.

The sequester was signed into law in 2011 as part of a raft of measures that ended that year’s crisis surrounding whether or not to raise the country’s debt ceiling. According to multiple news sources, the President and congressional republicans have thus far made little progress towards an agreement to head off the $85 billion in budget cuts that would automatically come into effect on March 1. Continue reading “Sequester Threatens Superfund, Air Pollution, Oil Spill Oversight”

EPA Funding Reductions Kneecap Environmental Enforcement

EPA Funding Reductions Kneecap Environmental Enforcement

Sea ice has been decreasing in places like Alaska's Becharof National Wildlife Refuge.
Sea ice has been decreasing in places like Alaska’s Becharof National Wildlife Refuge. United States Fish and Wildlife Service

Republicans have spent the past two years on the warpath against the Obama administration’s Environmental Protection Agency. As the EPA rolled out an ambitious slate of rules aimed at stopping climate change and curbing power-plant pollution, Republicans on the campaign trail and Capitol Hill slammed the agency as the embodiment of government overreach and so-called “job-killing regulations.”

Despite the outrage, the GOP’s efforts to stop the agency’s agenda haven’t succeeded—all of the many bills to block or delay EPA’s new regulations have failed in Congress. Continue reading “EPA Funding Reductions Kneecap Environmental Enforcement”

Please – It’s About the Bees!

Recent declines in honeybee populations and the impact on food crops should trigger the EPA to immediately suspend the use of neonicotinoid pesticides and to investigate a possible link between the use of these common pesticides and reductions in the honeybee population.  Honey bees are responsible for pollination of approximately one third of the United States’ crop species, including such species as almonds, peaches, soybeans, apples, pears, cherries, raspberries, blackberries, cranberries, watermelons, cantaloupes, cucumbers and strawberriesBee pollination contributes an estimated $15 billion in additional crop yields.

Recent research has found that certain members of a group of related pesticides, known as neonicotinoids, may be jeopardizing bee populations and with them important food crops and jobs.  France, Germany and Italy have banned neonicotinoids based on indications that the insecticides could be linked to honey bee Colony Collapse Disorder (“CCD”).  Internal EPA reports dating back to 2003 show that EPA scientist have raised serious concerns about the use of neonicotinoids. While these warnings are very specific in the EPA’s internal documents, both USDA and EPA have avoided targeting neonicotinoids in their published documents, instead calling for “further study” rather than any restrictions on use.  The Union asks that Congress direct the EPA:

  • To immediately suspend the use of neonicotinoids (“NN”) – a class of neuro-active insecticides chemically related to nicotine, with a common mode of action that affects the central nervous system of insects, causing paralysis and death – until such time as the Agency can definitively state that NNs are not the cause or a contributory cause of CCD.
  • To investigate the impacts of this class of pesticides on honeybees and other pollinators.
  • To report on the steps the Agency has taken to ensure there is sufficient scientific evidence to make informed decisions about the impacts of neonicotinoids on pollinators.