Environment & Energy Report

Wheeler To Face Appropriators in First Hill Test as EPA Head

March 27, 2019, 4:42 PM

EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler will face House appropriators April 2 to defend the Trump administration’s fiscal 2020 budget request, which again seeks deep cuts to the agency’s budget and staffing levels.

Wheeler will appear before the House Appropriations subcommittee for Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies, the committee confirmed March 27.

The hearing will be Wheeler’s first Hill test since he was formally confirmed to the Environmental Protection Agency’s top slot in February. Wheeler last testified before Congress in January, when he was acting agency head, during his confirmation hearing for the job.

The Trump White House is proposing to slash the EPA’s budget by around $2 billion—including eliminating many voluntary climate programs and requesting large reductions in the EPA’s grant programs that help state and local regulators implement federal environmental protections.

The request is consistent with previous Trump administration proposals.

Wheeler is likely to face scrutiny over those proposed cuts from appropriators on both sides of the aisle. Congress hasn’t matched the Trump administration’s requested steep cut to the EPA in prior years, even when both chambers were controlled by Republicans.

It isn’t clear whether Wheeler will publicly back all of the Trump administration’s proposed cuts, but he recently defended the 2020 budget request’s proposal to cut nearly 2,000 EPA jobs.

He told Bloomberg Environment March 25 the agency under a reduced staff would work more closely with states to implement environmental protections.

—With assistance from Alex Ebert.

To contact the reporter on this story: Abby Smith in Washington at asmith@bloombergenvironment.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Gregory Henderson at ghenderson@bloombergenvironment.com; Rob Tricchinelli at rtricchinelli@bloombergenvironment.com

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