06.09.21

NEWS EDITORS: Video Clips On VT Topics In Today’s Approps Hg W/EPA Adm. Regan: Leahy Discusses 1) Biden Reversing Trump Policy By Asking For LAKE CHAMPLAIN $; 2) BURLINGTON HIGH SCHOOL PCB Pollution

In today’s Senate Appropriations Committee hearing on EPA’s budget for Fiscal Year 2022, Chairman Patrick Leahy discussed two current topics important to Vermont.  Leahy raised two current EPA issues affecting Vermont in today’s hearing with EPA’s new Administrator, Michael Regan.

VIDEO CLIPS of Leahy’s exchanges with Administrator Regan about Lake Champlain funding and about the closure of Burlington High School because of the discovery of high levels of PCBs are available at the LINKS BELOW.

BACKGROUND:

Budget Overview: The President’s budget proposes an increase of more than 21 percent for the EPA, $2 billion above the FY21 enacted level. The $11.2 billion proposal represents the single largest top-line request in the Agency’s history and focuses most of the increases on the President’s climate and infrastructure priorities, including those represented in the American Jobs Plan. 

  • Lake Champlain: For the first time since FY16, the EPA’s budget request includes funding for Lake Champlain. This $20 million request — $5 million above the current enacted level — represents a significant commitment by the Biden administration to Leahy’s ongoing work in securing funds for Lake Champlain cleanup projects.  Former President Trump had proposed zeroing out Lake Champlain funding in each of his annual budget requests, and Leahy each year had succeeded in restoring Lake Champlain funds to the annual EPA budgets.  The last time EPA requested funding for Lake Champlain was President Obama’s FY16 budget at $1.4 million.  Leahy noted that these federal dollars leverage a broad network of stakeholders, experts, and funding streams to support Vermont’s goal of a “drinkable, swimmable, fishable” Lake.  VIDEO CLIP: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GiPAaECqHbw
  • Burlington High School: Burlington High School (BHS) was forced to close in September 2020 after air sampling found elevated levels of PCBs, a toxic chemical that was widely used in school and municipal construction until the EPA banned it in 1979. Many schools built prior to 1980, therefore, contain some level of contamination. Although Vermont is the only state with a lower, more conservative acceptable threshold for PCBs than the EPA, the problem is widespread and there is currently no national testing mandate.  Schools often discover PCB contamination only when preparing for renovations.  Last month the school board voted to abandon the building entirely and construct a new school at a site to be determined.  VIDEO CLIPhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tvsHkO-nvug