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EPA wants a 6 percent budget increase to create 'sustainable economic growth

WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 23: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy testifies before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on Capitol Hill, July 23, 2014 in Washington, DC. The committee heard testimony on EPA's proposed carbon pollution standards for existing power plants. Mark Wilson/Getty Images

The administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday asked Congress for a 6 percent increase to the EPA's budget, in order to help build a "solid path for sustainable economic growth."

Republicans have spent the last several years arguing that various EPA rules are cutting into U.S. economic growth, and preventing a full recovery from the Great Recession. But in prepared remarks before a House committee Wednesday, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy argued that the EPA's clean air and clean water rules are actually helping the U.S. economy.

WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 02: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy announces new regulations for power plants June 2, 2014 in Washington, DC. Bypassing Congress and using President Barack Obama's 'Climate Action Plan,' the new regulations will force more than 600 existing coal-fired power plants, the single largest source of greenhouse gas emission in the country, to reduce their carbon pollution 30 percent from 2005 levels by 2030. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy is asking for a 6 percent budget increase in her agency next year. Image: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

As proof, McCarthy that while the EPA has been working to clean up the environment since 1970, U.S. gross domestic product has tripled over that period. She said that shows cleaning up the environment is "consistent" with economic growth.

"Since the EPA was founded in 1970, we have seen over and over again that a safe environment and a strong economy go hand in hand," McCarthy said.

"In the last 45 years, we have cut air pollution 70 percent and cleaned up half of our nation's polluted waterways," she said. "Meanwhile, the U.S. GDP has tripled, which shows that investments in public health and environmental protection are consistent with strong economic growth."

"Economic prosperity and quality of life depends on public health protection that ensures clean air; clean water; and safe, healthy land," she added.

Many GOP members are likely to see McCarthy's link between environmental rules and the economy as a case of correlation without causation. For example, the GOP has said a proposed EPA rule to limit emissions from power plants would kill jobs and raise energy prices for millions of consumers.

The EPA has also proposed new rules aimed at stopping mercury emissions from dentists' offices, and rules that would give the EPA the power to regulate waterways in a way that would also have adverse effects on companies.

Last year, House Republicans proposed a 9 percent cut to the EPA's budget, in part to reduce the EPA's ability to impose regulations that they said would cause job losses.

The EPA's budget request for 2016 is $8.6 billion, a 6 percent increase from its current $8.1 billion budget. In 2014, the EPA budget was a bit larger, at $8.2 billion.

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