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Rounds’ Hearing Reaffirms Importance of State and Local Input Before EPA Implements Regulations

WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Subcommittee on Superfund, Waste Management, and Regulatory Oversight, today held a hearing entitled, “Oversight of EPA Unfunded Mandates on State, Local, and Tribal Governments.” The purpose of the hearing was to examine the impact that unfunded mandates issued by the EPA have on local units of government. Rounds’ full opening statement from the hearing can be found here.

During the hearing, Rounds questioned Berks County, Pennsylvania, Commission Chair Christian Leinbach on his experience dealing with EPA regulations at a county level.

“States and counties are not only responsible for administering state and federal regulations, but they also must provide other critical services to the citizens, such as waste management, law enforcement, emergency services and education. How has the recent barrage of EPA regulations impacted counties’ abilities to provide these vital services to American families?” asked Rounds. 

Leinbach responded, “We have had to deal with the issue of Waters of the U.S. and the potential impact on costs for counties. We believe it is imperative that counties be brought into the process in the very beginning…Through the lead attainment standard several years ago, our largest employer, East Penn Manufacturing, over seven thousand employees were already meeting the new lead attainment standard for a year and a half—they had a year and a half of data. [East Penn Manufacturing] came to the county to ask for help because they were notified that EPA was requiring three years of data. In spite of our pleas to the EPA to not put that part of our county in nonattainment, they were placed in nonattainment. That meant that our largest employer during that period of time was not able to expand, and we were not able to attract manufacturing businesses to that region of the county. That has a direct impact economically. County governments are concerned about the same issues the federal government is concerned about…We believe in clean water. We believe in clean air. Public safety is our number one job. 911 services, police, fire and rescue are costs we have to absorb. When we’re challenged with the cost of regulations, those other areas often suffer.”

Full video of the exchange can be found here: