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.
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.