GAO Report Contains No Ammo for EPA Attackers

As Republicans continue headfirst with their chainsaw attack on federal spending, one area they don't need to be targeting is the EPA. That’s not just coming from me and other environmentalists – it’s coming from the nonpartisan arbiter of government waste, the Government Accountability Office (GAO.)

Yesterday the GAO issued a report - requested by Republicans - that documents billions of dollars in government waste due to duplicative and inefficient programs.  

But those out to gut the EPA might be disappointed to learn that the GAO report provides no ammunition for those backing the crippling 30% cuts the US House recently voted to make to the EPA’s budget.

The GAO report  has been getting plenty of play amongst conservative voices that support draconian budget cuts. I wonder if they’ll be willing to give as much play to the fact that the billions of dollars that the House voted to strip from the EPA are not identified by the GAO report as fat needing to be trimmed.

The report does point out duplication of efforts around incentivizing ethanol production and water quality issues on the US-Mexico border. Interestingly, though, the House budget made NO cuts to the ethanol subsidy that the GAO says wastes $5.7 billion per year. And the GAO report suggests an interagency coordinating process to address the duplication on the border . . .  a far cry from the billions of dollars the House budget slashed from clean water programs.

The GAO report happened to come out the same day as a new report issued yesterday documenting that the Clean Air Act will have saved 4.2 million American lives between 1990-2020. As my colleague Laurie explains, by 2020 the Clean Air Act will have returned $30 for every dollar invested in cleaning up our air since 1990.  

Later today, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson will be testifying before the Senate’s Environment and Public Works Committee on its budget. Its nice to know that those looking for justification to savage EPA’s ability to protect our air won’t find them in the GAO report.