Environmental Priorities Face Cuts In Fiscal 2007 Budget Request

On Feb. 6, President Bush unveiled a proposed $2.77 trillion budget for fiscal 2007 that will bolster defense and nuclear energy while cutting funding for programs for such areas as clean water.

EPA Proposed Budget Seeks Cuts In Water Spending

The budget request for EPA is $7.3 billion; the proposed budget for last year was $7.6 billion. Agency officials defended the budget, stating that it reflects the need for spending restraint while accelerating environmental protection, maintaining economic competitiveness and strengthening homeland defenses.

"EPA shares in the responsibility of being good stewards of our nation's environment, and good stewards of our nation's tax dollars," said EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson. "This budget fulfills every presidential environmental commitment and maintains the goals laid out in EPA's Strategic Plan, while spending less."

The proposed budget would cut approximately $200 million (from $887 million to $687 million) from the agency's Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) program, a loan program that helps local communities repair and replace aging treatment plants.

Ken Kirk, executive director of the National Association of Clean Water Agencies, stated that "this proposed budget cut to the CWSRF is the wrong measure at the wrong time. Without a long-term, sustainable federal-state-local partnership, communities will not be able to tackle essential capital replacement projects needed to meet federal Clean Water Act mandates and improve the quality of the nation's waters."

The budget request for EPA Homeland Security efforts is $184 million, an increase of $55 million over the FY 2006 enacted budget. This funding includes:

  • $33 million to protect the nation's drinking water from terrorist attack, including additional Water Sentinel pilots.
  • $10 million to develop Environmental Laboratory Preparedness and Response capability.
  • $10 million to provide for environmental decontamination, including related research and development.

Other highlights of EPA's proposed budget:

  • $50 million for the new Diesel Emissions Reduction Program, to support cleaner fuels and diesel retrofits, rebuilds and replacements. EPA estimates this amount will attract at least $100 million in funding assistance and reduce particulate matter by approximately 7,000 tons, achieving an estimated $2 billion in health benefits.
  • $38 million in underground storage tank funding, a $26 million increase over fiscal 2006 enacted levels, to prevent future releases from such tanks.
  • $11 million for the development and implementation of the renewable fuel standard, which leads to increasing market share of ethanol and renewable fuels.
  • $4 million in additional support for 2007, for a total of $8.6 million, to study the impacts of manufactured nanomaterials on human health and the environment and nanotechnology's potential beneficial uses.
  • $8.9 million 2007 funding for the Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS), an Internet database of information on the potential human health effects of environmental substances.
  • $15 million 2007 funding for the Computational Toxicology program.

In addition, the president requested nearly $1.3 billion for the Superfund program, a $17 million increase over last year's enacted budget.

Additional information on EPA's budget can be accessed at http://www.epa.gov/ocfo/budget/index.htm.

Energy Department Budget Would Expand Nuclear Energy

The budget request for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is $23.6 billion, a $124 million increase over the fiscal 2006 request. DOE officials said that the 2007 budget request makes bold investments to improve America's energy security while protecting that environment, puts policies in place that foster continued economic growth, spurs scientific innovation and discovery, and addresses the threat of nuclear proliferation. These funds, officials said, directly advance the goals of the Advanced Energy Initiative, which aims to break America's dependence on foreign sources of energy; and the American Competitiveness Initiative, which encourages innovation to strengthen our nation's ability to compete in the global economy -- both announced in President Bush's State of the Union Address on Jan. 31.

"This budget signifies an investment in our future," Energy Secretary Samuel W. Bodman said. "Continued support for scientific discovery and the development of alternative energy sources is vital to America's energy and economic security. From new global threats of the 21st century, to recognizing the importance of providing our next generation of scientists, teachers and engineers with a strong educational foundation, DOE's fiscal 2007 budget represents a comprehensive approach to addressing both the near-- and long-term challenges America faces."

The Advanced Energy Initiative aims to reduce America's dependence on imported energy sources. The fiscal 2007 DOE budget requests $2.1 billion to meet these goals, an increase of $381 million over fiscal 2006, officials said.

The fiscal 2007 budget request emphasizes investment in alternative fuel technologies, officials said. Numerous DOE offices will benefit from the Advanced Energy Initiative. The Office of Science ($539 million) budget incorporates funding for nuclear fusion, including the ITER project, an experimental reactor that puts the U.S. on the pathway to furthering the potential of nuclear fusion as source of energy; solar, biomass and hydrogen research programs.

The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy ($771 million) budget includes funding increases for hydrogen technology; fuel cell technology; vehicle technology; and biomass, solar, and wind research programs, officials said. The Office of Fossil Energy ($444 million) supports the Coal Research Initiative and other power generation/stationary fuel cell research programs. The Office of Nuclear Energy, Science and Technology ($392 million) includes $250 million for the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP), and also supports Generation IV, Nuclear Power 2010, and the Nuclear Hydrogen Initiative.

Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy budget requests $1.2 billion, $2.6 million (0.2 percent) more than the fiscal 2006 appropriations, officials said. Much of this funding is an integral part of the Advanced Energy Initiative and expands key programs that focus on developing new energy choices, including: hydrogen fuel technology ($114 million); fuel cell technology ($82 million); biomass ($150 million), including research into cellulosic ethanol, made from switch grass, wood chips and stalks; the Solar America Initiative ($148 million); vehicle technology ($166 million); and wind projects ($44 million).

The Office of Nuclear Energy, Science and Technology fiscal 2007 budget requests $632.7 million, a $97.0 million (18 percent) increase over fiscal 2006 appropriation. The Office of Radioactive Waste Management requests $544.5 million for fiscal 2007 for further development of the Yucca Mountain (Nevada) Project, a $99 million increase from the final fiscal 2006 appropriation, excluding funds for the Integrated Spent Fuel Recycling Facilities.

Senate Energy & Natural Resources Chairman Pete V. Domenici (R-NM) praised the competitiveness and advanced energy initiatives in the proposed budget. However, Domenici expressed disappointment over the administration's move to cut the Clean Coal Power Initiative from $49.5 million this year to $5 million next year. "We're going to take a second look at that cut come appropriations time," he said. "The United States has a 250-year supply of coal. Refining the technology to burn coal without hurting the environment is critical to our economy and our global competitiveness. I'm not going to short-change that program at this critical juncture."

Tyson Slocum, director, Public Citizen's Critical Mass Energy Program, criticized DOE's budget for its nuclear power programs, stating that it squanders vast amounts of taxpayer dollars in pursuit of policies that further subsidize the 50-year-old nuclear industry, threaten global security and fail to solve the radioactive waste problem.

"It simply does not make sense to continue to dump money into expensive and dangerous nuclear technology. According to the credit rating agency Standard & Poor's in a January report, the $13 billion in subsidies and tax breaks passed in the Energy Policy Act of 2005 may still not be enough to prevent the credit downgrading of a company that decides to build one or more new nuclear reactors," Slocum said.

Additional information on DOE's proposed budget can be viewed at http://www.cfo.doe.gov/budget/index.htm

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

The fiscal 2007 budget transmitted includes $4.733 billion in new federal funding for the Civil Works program of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Mr. John Paul Woodley, Jr., Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works), said, "The Army Civil Works budget for fiscal 2007 is the highest budget ever proposed for the Civil Works program. It provides critical funding for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to continue to contribute to the nation's economic and environmental well being."

The budget includes $25 million for the program to restore the Louisiana Coastal Area. The budget also provides $20 million for a national inventory and data base of flood and storm damage reduction projects, and for assessing project structural and operational integrity and their associated risks.

The Corps civil works budget information can be accessed at http://www.usace.army.mil/civilworks/cecwb/budget/budget.html.

U.S. Department of the Interior

The proposed 2007 budget of $10.5 billion for the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) is a reduction of $332 million or 2.9 percent below the 2006 funding level. Interior officials defended the budget request, stating that it reflects fiscal restraint and the president's commitment to cut the deficit by more than half by 2009.

"This budget underscores Interior's strategic missions and improves performance in high priority Administration initiatives," Interior Secretary Gale Norton said. "Within the context of the President's plan to reduce the deficit, this budget will enable Interior to fulfill its key responsibilities through collaborative approaches and partnerships, facilitate energy production, and continue Indian trust reform."

The 2007 budget proposes a multi-bureau initiative to implement the Energy Policy Act of 2005. In total, the budget includes $467.5 million for DOI's energy programs. This amount is a net increase of $43.5 million over 2006.

More information on DOI's budget can be accessed at http://www.doi.gov/budget/2007/07Hilites/toc.html.

U.S. Department Of Agriculture

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) budget for fiscal 2007 would be about $93 billion, down from $96 billion the previous fiscal year. USDA's core investment in energy-related projects increases to $85 million from $67 million in 2006. This funding includes resources to support renewable energy research and demonstration projects and additional efforts to support energy development and transmission across public lands. In addition, the budget provides in excess of $250 million each year in fiscal years 2006 and 2007 for renewable energy and energy efficiency projects through Rural Development's loan and grants programs.

Additional information regarding the fiscal 2007 budget proposal is available at http://www.usda.gov/budget.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

The budget request for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) totals $3.68 billion.

"This proposed budget is a clear indication of the Bush Administration's commitment to protect lives and livelihoods through the missions of NOAA," said Retired Navy Vice Adm. Conrad C. Lautenbacher, PhD, undersecretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. "This budget request will provide improvements to fisheries management, increases for tsunami and hurricane warnings, marine transportation safety, and to ensure environmental satellite continuity." The budget includes $107.6 million for ecosystem management such as fisheries habitat restoration and enhancement for protected species.

A summary of NOAA's budget request can be found at http://www.corporateservices.noaa.gov/%7Enbo/07bluebook_highlights.html.

Additional information on the fiscal 2007 budget can be accessed at http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/budget/fy2007.

This article originally appeared in the 02/01/2006 issue of Environmental Protection.

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