On March 10, 2021, the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations held a hearing on “The Path Forward:  Restoring the Vital Mission of EPA.”  According to the March 7, 2021, memorandum from Representative Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Chair of the Committee, to the Subcommittee, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) current responsibilities include reviewing national air pollution standards and overseeing or carrying out cleanups at most of the 1,327 sites on the Superfund’s National Priorities List.  The Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) and other laws require EPA to address threats and contamination from chemicals, including per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).  In addition, EPA is also responsible for addressing the health impacts that disproportionately affect low-income communities, communities of color, and fence-line communities situated near industrial plants.  The memorandum notes that the previous Administration eliminated or weakened more than 170 environmental protections, impairing EPA’s ability to pressing environmental challenges.  Finally, according to the memorandum, continuing budget and staffing pressures also are impacting EPA’s capacity.  The memorandum states that “[d]espite having fewer programs to administer at the time, EPA’s budget in 1980 was fifty percent higher in inflation-adjusted dollars than it is today.  Between fiscal years 2015 and 2018, staffing levels at EPA declined by nearly 2,500 full-time equivalent positions.”  The memorandum notes that more departures may occur in the coming years, with nearly 40 percent of EPA now eligible for retirement.  For more information on the hearing, please read the full memorandum.

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