To the editor: New England congressional delegation opposes changes to clean air funding

All 20 of New England’s representatives in the U.S. House sent a letter to Gina McCarthy, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, expressing their concern that proposed funding changes to clean air programs would have a negative impact on the region.

In June, the EPA announced changes to the way the agency plans to distribute air quality funds. These revisions would reduce New England’s funding to send money to other regions that have not done as much to improve air quality. If fully implemented, these changes could decrease New England’s funding by 30 to 40 percent, forcing state governments to make up the difference. In addition, other proposed changes would require more matching funds from states to support programs aimed at monitoring air quality. This would create a substantial burden on New England and could cripple the monitoring programs these states use to keep their air clean.

The full text of the letter can be found below.

September 17, 2013

The Honorable Gina McCarthy
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20460

Dear Administrator McCarthy:

We write to you today because it has been brought to our attention that the Environmental Protection Agency is planning to implement a new funding formula for federal air quality programs that may have a significant negative impact on programs in New England.  Given New England’s long established history of working to provide its citizens with clean air and a healthy environment, we are concerned that the proposed changes would undermine these accomplishments while sending more money to regions that have a track record of neglecting these critical issues.

In the Fiscal Year 2014 National Program Managers Guidance, the EPA has announced two changes to the distribution of air quality funds that would have a significant impact on New England’s air quality programs.  The first proposal would revise the Section 105 allocation formula for the distribution of state/local air grant funds.  The proposed revisions would reduce the funding that would go to New England in order to provide funding for other regions that have not done as much to improve air quality.  These changes would reduce funding going to New England by 30%-40% once fully implemented.  The second significant change is that the EPA would transition air monitoring funds into Section 105 from Section 103, which would then require matching funds from the state.  This would create a substantial burden on the New England states and other states that rely on these funds for monitoring programs.

We urge you to postpone any significant changes to the Section 105 allocation formula until it has received adequate funding so that no region would see a drastic reduction from its prior year allocation.  New England has been a national leader in air quality programs, taking the lead on issues like reducing mercury emissions, encouraging diesel retrofits for construction equipment and buses, creating cleaner woodstoves, and encouraging research into advancing the science of transported air pollution and climate change.  EPA’s proposed plans would reduce critical funding to support these efforts while transferring funds to regions that have not demonstrated a similar dedication to improving air quality.

We strongly encourage you to ensure that the air quality programs in New England are at least level funded by the EPA through FY 2014.

Thank you for your attention to this important matter.

U.S. Reps. Peter Welch of Vermont, Carol Shea-Porter and Ann Kuster of New Hampshire, Michael Michaud and Chellie Pingree of Maine, Michael Capuano, William Keating, Joseph Kennedy III, Stephen Lynch, James McGovern, Richard Neal, John Tierney and Niki Tsongas of Massachusetts, David Cicilline and Jim Langevin of Rhode Island, and Joe Courtney, Rosa DeLauro, Elizabeth Esty, Jim Himes and John Larson of Connecticut.



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