Bush Administration's Budget Request Seeks Reduced Funding For EPA

On Feb. 5, President Bush unveiled his $2.9 trillion budget request for next year, which includes $7.2 billion for EPA -- a cut by more than $400 million from the 2006 enacted levels.

The new budget emphasizes using more citizen-partners as EPA shifts into the next phase of environmental progress -- the green culture, officials said.

"As our nation shifts to a green culture, Americans are realizing that environmental responsibility is everyone's responsibility. Today, EPA has 300 million citizen-partners in our efforts to accelerate the pace of environmental protection," said EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson. "President Bush's budget request will fund EPA's role as our country enters this next phase of environmental progress."

The proposed 2008 spending plan includes $549.5 million for enforcement operations, the largest amount ever dedicated to that agency responsibility. However, the budget request seeks a $400 million reduction in the Clean Water Revolving Loan Fund, which provides grants to states to help cities and towns build water treatment plants and protect water quality. This amounts to nearly 37 percent below 2006 enacted funding levels. Additionally, the proposal would cut EPA's science and technology budget for climate protection by about $5 million, from $18.64 million in 2006 to $13.1 million. The proposed budget also would strip almost $7 million from efforts to clean up the nation's most heavily contaminated toxic waste sites.

"Once again, this administration is cutting the critical programs that protect our children, our families and our communities," said Sen. Barbara Boxer, (D-CA), chairperson of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. "I will be working with my colleagues to restore funding for these important protections."

U.S. Department of Energy

The president's budget request would increase total Department of Energy (DOE) spending by 3 percent over the level requested for fiscal 2007, to a total of $24.3 billion. This request supports continued scientific discovery and the development of alternative energy sources that are vital to America's energy and economic security, department officials said.

"Under President Bush's leadership, this budget builds on our commitment to strengthen our nation's energy security by diversifying our energy resources and reducing our reliance on foreign sources of energy. In addition, this budget will help us expand our nation's scientific know-how, protect generations from the dangers of our Cold War legacy and safely and reliably maintain our nation's nuclear weapons stockpile," Energy Secretary Samuel W. Bodman said. "Thanks to the investments in this year's budget, we will be able to meet the department's mission for today, as well as have a profound and lasting positive impact on our nation's future."

Of this total, $9.4 billion would be budgeted to the nuclear weapons missions of the department, another $9.4 billion would be devoted to environmental cleanup and radioactive waste management, $4.4 billion would go to basic science, and $3.1 billion would go to energy supply and energy efficiency programs.

Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) said that while the $3.1 billion proposed for energy activities is a major overall increase in this budget category, he took issue with some specific gaps in the new budget proposal. A fuller analysis comparing the new budget request with the authorized funding levels in the Energy Policy Act of 2005 is being prepared by staff of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, said Bingaman, who heads the committee.

Among the issues he cited, Bingaman expressed puzzlement at the enormous increases proposed for reprocessing of nuclear fuel in the new budget. "There has been very little examination of the administration's Global Nuclear Energy Partnership program here in Congress, yet it is proposed for a one-year increase that is larger than the whole of DOE's solar energy R&D budget. With that increase, we would be spending more to investigate reprocessing that the entire amount we are spending on energy efficiency in buildings, transportation and industrial processes. We will need to see if there is a rationale for diverting so much money towards a program whose details are poorly understood."

Additional information about the administration's budget proposal for environmental-related projects can be found at the Web sites of:

White House: http://www.whitehouse.gov/infocus/budget/2008

EPA: http://www.epa.gov/ocfo/budget/index.htm

U.S. Department of Energy: http://www.energy.gov

U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission: http://www.nrc.gov

U.S. Department of Interior: http://www.doi.gov/budget/2008/08Hilites/toc.html

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers: http://www.hq.usace.army.mil/cepa/releases/2008budget.htm

National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration: http://www.corporateservices.noaa.gov/%7Enbo/08bluebook_highlights.html

This article originally appeared in the 02/01/2007 issue of Environmental Protection.

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