The National Association of Clean Air Agencies (“NACAA”) sent a March 27th letter to the Chairman and Ranking Members of the House and Senate Appropriations Subcommittees expressing concern about certain reductions to the FY 2018 budget for the United States Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) proposed in America First: A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again (“Budget Blueprint”).

The letter was addressed to:

  • The Honorable Lisa Murkowski, Chairman, Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies, U.S. Senate
  • The Honorable Tom Udal, Ranking Member, Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies, U.S. Senate
  • The Honorable Ken Calvert, Chairman, House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies, U.S. House of Representatives
  • The Honorable Betty McCollum, Ranking Member, House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies, U.S. House of Representatives

Concern is expressed about reductions to state and local air pollution control agency grants under Sections 103 and 105 of the Clean Air Act.

NACAA states that the Budget Blueprint provides for:

  • 31% reduction in EPA’s budget
  • 45% cut in categorical grants to state and local agencies

The letter further notes that:

While the blueprint does not specify cuts to each media program (e.g., air, water, solid waste), we are very troubled by the possibility of commensurate reductions to federal grants to state and local air pollution control agencies under Sections 103 and 105 of the Clean Air Act. A 45-percent reduction would decrease Section 103/105 grants from $227.8 million in FY 2017 to $126 million in FY 2018. Such a reduction would be devastating to state and local air quality programs.

The letter also notes:

  • State and local air pollution control agencies have “struggled with insufficient resources for many years” (noting an NACAA study identifying an annual shortfall of 550 million in federal grants for state and local air programs)

  • Federal grants support a number of essential state and local agency programs designed to attain and maintain healthy air quality noting:

    • implementation of the health-based National Ambient Air Quality Standards

    • development of state implementation plans, implementation of air toxic

    • implementation of air toxic standards

    • implementation of control measures related to visibility regional haze

  • Air pollution presents a pervasive national threat to public health and the environment and is a problem against which individuals cannot protect themselves

  • Concern about the proposed reductions to EPA’s operating budget referencing the federal government role in:

    • development of nationally applicable regulations and guidance

    • conducting research and development

    • assisting with enforcement activities under some parts of the Clean Air Act

    • carrying out appropriate oversight of state and local air quality programs

The NACAA describes itself as a national, non-partisan, non-profit association of state and local air pollution control agencies in 45 states, the District of Columbia and four territories.

A copy of the March 27th letter can be downloaded here.