Clean air advocates are calling on the Obama administration to consider how to lower the country’s carbon emissions as soon as possible, rather than wait until 2020 to reduce the federal deficit.
EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy told a Senate panel Thursday that the agency will soon start reviewing its existing programs to assess how to cut carbon emissions and make them more cost-effective, as a way to save money on its environmental impact statements.
McCarthy said the agency plans to look at the cost of carbon pollution reductions in 2020, 2021, and 2022, among other scenarios, and will work with states and localities to identify which emissions reduction strategies might work best for them.
She also said the EPA will soon release a report that examines how to implement its new COVID-19 prevention strategies in 2020 and 2021, as well as in 2022.
The agency’s existing programs focus on reducing the effects of COVID, a virus that causes respiratory and cardiac problems in people who are exposed to respiratory secretions, and the effects on the economy.
They also work to reduce deaths from other infectious diseases, and help states with their water and power needs.
But McCarthy’s budget proposal would add a $500 billion cap on federal COVID mitigation funding in 2020 to make up for the loss of funds the agency had anticipated.
“In 2020, we’re going to start looking at the costs of what we’re doing to address the impact of the pandemic, and to figure out how we can do it in a way that’s going to save taxpayer dollars and be able get us into a position to start doing something about climate change,” McCarthy said.
“The federal government, we know, is not always in a position where we can afford to do it.”
The EPA is currently running a number of programs to try to reduce COVID in 2020 through the introduction of COX-2 vaccines and other measures.
The agency also has launched a public-private partnership to develop new vaccines to fight the virus.
While the agency has not yet released its new budget proposal, it has suggested that the money would come from a variety of sources, including tax credits and a cap on the amount of CO2 emissions that the government can emit, as an incentive to invest in green energy.
In addition to a $1 billion COVID prevention fund, the EPA is proposing a $300 million fund for developing new vaccines that can be administered by doctors to patients who contract the virus, and $50 million to develop a national program to reduce air pollution from coal-fired power plants, including the cost-benefit analysis that would be included in the program.
McCarthy said that while there is an “extra” $500 to $1,000 billion of COID mitigation funding on the table, it will not be enough to pay for all the measures needed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2020, and that the administration would be looking to “increase” that amount.
“We want to be able and willing to spend the additional money, so the government’s ability to meet its obligations is going to be increased,” she said.
A number of Democrats in Congress have said they want to increase the federal government’s funding for COVID programs, including Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, who has proposed legislation that would increase the cap on COVID funding to $500,000 per year.
McCarthy has not said whether she plans to follow through on Manchin’s proposal, though she said the program would continue to exist.
Other federal agencies, including Environmental Protection, the National Institutes of Health, the Bureau of Reclamation, and Veterans Affairs, are also working to cut COVID costs by 2020 and to mitigate its effects.
The EPA has already announced that it will start the process of setting up a new COX research program, called the COVID Research Program, in 2020.