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WASHINGTON, DC -- Today, U.S. Rep. Harold "Hal" Rogers (KY-05) questioned Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt about how the agency's proposed "back to the basics" budget for fiscal year 2018 will impact coal country. The budget proposes a $2.5 billion cut to the EPA to reduce redundancies and inefficiencies, while prioritizing the core statutory mission of providing Americans with clean air, land and water. 

"I want to talk to you about the culture of overreach in that agency. Time and again, federal courts have held that the agency was overreaching its legal authority, engaging in activiities that were not authorized by the United States Congress. It became a practice that repeated itself time and again. It had devastating impacts in certain parts of the country, including mine in the coal fields, where the war on coal led by the EPA resulted in some 12,000 miners losing their jobs and their homes in my region alone," said Rogers, Chairman Emeritus of the House Appropriations Committee. "What will you be doing to change the culture of overreach in that agency where the employees, both career and political, overstepped their boundaries time and time again. What can we expect?" 

Pruitt, who is a native of Kentucky, said the agency will end Obama-era practices of "regulation by litigation."

"When you disrespect rule of law, when you take statutes passed by Congress and act in a way that's not authorized, it creates uncertainty. We're going to stay within our lane. We're going to stay within the authorities provided by Congress. If you have not spoken to an issue, if you have not given authority to the agency, we're not going to reimagine it. We're not going to create it. We're going to let you know when those deficiencies arise," said Pruitt. "We need the help of Congress to achieve good environmental outcomes." 

Pruitt said planned reductions in personnel will be achieved through attrition, continuation of the hiring freeze, and the initiation of voluntary buy-outs. He said about 20% of the agency is eligible for retirement.

To watch the entire hearing, visit

EPA Budget Hearing

WATCH: EPA FY18 Budget Hearing with Administrator Pruitt