Environmental Protection

Jackson: Proposed Budget Shows 'EPA Is Back on the Job'

The Obama administration on Feb. 26 proposed a budget of $10.5 billion for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the largest in the agency's 39-year history, according to an EPA press release.

The increase of $3 billion from 2008 funding levels will further ensure the protection of public health and the environment for all Americans.

"The president's budget proposes critical resources to protect the American people and the places where they live, work, and play," said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. "We are no longer faced with the false choice of a strong economy or a clean environment. The president's budget shows that making critical and responsible investments in protecting the health and environment of all Americans will also lead to a more vibrant and stable economy. With these proposed resources, and the president's strong environmental agenda, it should be overwhelmingly clear that EPA is back on the job."

Last week, President Obama announced the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, which includes $7.22 billion for EPA-administered projects and programs to protect human health and the environment.

Some key highlights of 2010 budget initiatives include:

• $3.9 billion for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund and Drinking Water State Revolving Fund grants to support approximately 1,000 clean water projects and 700 drinking water projects -- this year's largest single investment. EPA will work with state and local partners to develop a sustainability policy, including management and pricing, conservation, security, and a plan for adequate long-term state and municipal funding for future capital needs.

• A new $475 million, multi-agency Great Lakes Initiative to protect the world's largest fresh water resource. EPA will coordinate with federal partners, states, tribes, localities and other entities to invasive species, non-point source pollution, habitat restoration, contaminated sediment, and other critical issues.

• A $19 million increase for the greenhouse gas emissions inventory and related activities that will provide data critical for implementing a comprehensive climate change bill. EPA's funding for climate change investments is the foundation for working with key stakeholders and Congress to develop an economy-wide cap-and-trade program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions approximately 83 percent below 2005 levels by 2050.

• Strengthening EPA's core research, enforcement, and regulatory capabilities. The budget request also proposes reinstating the Superfund excise taxes that expired, which would collect more than $1 billion annually to fund the cleanup of the nation's most contaminated sites.

For more information, visit http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/budget/ .

The National Center for Policy Analysis, in response to the budget proposal announcement and its cap-and-trade provision, said that if Congress agrees with President Obama's proposals, a long list of tax breaks would disappear and hurt both big and small oil and natural gas producers.

"President Obama's budget plan clearly shows his ignorance of economics and the role that energy plays in our economy," says NCPA Senior Fellow, H. Sterling Burnett. "It imposes a huge tax increase that falls disproportionately on the lowest income Americans since the lower and middle classes spend a larger percentage of their income on fuel than the relatively wealthy."

Burnett points out that the Obama administration is eliminating $31.5 billion in energy tax deductions for the cost of new equipment needed to increase oil and gas production. These tax increases would make U.S. energy companies – which already pay more taxes than any other industry – less competitive than foreign firms in search of new oil, says Burnett.

"This will make U.S. energy companies less attractive to investors since the return on investment will be lower for domestic oil and gas producers, than for foreign producers and companies in other industries," Burnett says. "Making American energy companies less competitive in the world market hardly seems like a policy designed to make us less dependant on foreign energy sources."

"Every credible economic analysis done so far shows that cap-and-trade programs increase unemployment for blue collar workers and raise the price they pay for gasoline and electricity," Burnett adds. "These programs are all pain, no gain, since experience in Europe and numerous economic analyses indicate that they will do little or nothing to halt or even slow climate change."

FPL Group Chair and Chief Executive Officer Lew Hay said the proposal was "encouraging."

"The president's statements on climate change are now being backed up with an ambitious timetable for action," Hay said in a press release. "The sooner we can establish a price on carbon dioxide, the sooner we can tackle climate change and begin the transition to the clean energy economy of the 21st Century."

The FPL Group's 2008 revenues were more than $16 billion. Headquartered in Juno Beach, Fla., the company's principal subsidiaries are NextEra Energy Resources, LLC, a generator of renewable energy from the wind and sun, and Florida Power & Light Company, which serves 4.5 million customer accounts in Florida and is one of the largest rate-regulated electric utilities in the country.

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