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May 26 2017

EPA Budget Cut Means TCEQ Needs to Do Things Smarter . . . Simpler

(Houston) – May 26, 2017

Trump’s formal budget cuts EPA spending by 30 percent.

$8.2 billion is eliminated.

Over 3,000 staff . . . gone.

Less Money to TCEQ

Less money will be sent to TCEQ.  That means even less money for TCEQ to accomplish all the tasks that Congress and EPA have tasked the State with performing.  President Trump’s budget includes a 30 percent reduction in state and local grants—from $227.7 million this fiscal year to $159.4 million.

Jed 3 (2)Jed Anderson, a candidate for TCEQ Commissioner who recently filed a petition to simplify TCEQ rules to help deal with potential budget cuts, described what’s unfolding in the following way:

“Congress and EPA have asked the States the following question in the Clean Air Act and EPA rules:

“How would you like to mow my lawn for me? 

States have answered . . . “Absolutely!”

Now the federal government wants to pay States $2.25 an hour to mow the lawn.

States gripe, but at the end of the day States like the power that comes with operating the lawn mower so much that they will do it for free, so $2.25 in some ways is a windfall.”

“The truth is that States don’t want to watch the federal government mow the lawn.  States would rather mow the lawn for free than decline the power the Federal government is offering them to mow the lawn.”

I’ve got the answer to this, said Anderson:

“I’ll mow part of the lawn because I think I can do it best, but if you want the lawn mowed every 2 days, want every dandelion removed regardless of the time and money it takes, want me to mow part of the neighbor’s yard, want to tell me what tools I need to use, and want to pay me $2.25 an hour . . . then mow your own lawn.”

Anderson said he remembers when his Dad asked him to mow the lawn for the first time and enticed him with the power of the mower.   Then after a couple times Anderson thought it was not as much fun.

Anderson said, “All this needs to change.  How anyone can call this “cooperative federalism” is beyond me.”  “I don’t think we can call it federalism . . . and it certainly isn’t cooperative.”

Anderson said that foundational improvements are needed to the Clean Air Act and other environmental statutes to better align responsibility and authority between the States and the Federal government.  Texas can be a leader in helping to make this happen.  Regardless Anderson said that a decreased Federal budget means that States like Texas must adapt their environmental programs to be smarter, simpler, and more succinct.

“If someone gives you less money to do something . . . you better start thinking about how you can do it more efficiently . . . otherwise you are going to go broke.”

“Plus, it just makes sense anyway.”  “With simplicity will come better transparency.  With transparency will come better accountability.  The more simple things are, the more everyone understands them.  The more everyone understands them, the better they can comply with them.  It’s that simple.”

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