EPA 2013 Budget Proposal Focuses on Core Environmental and Human Health Protections

The Obama Administration recently proposed a FY 2013 budget of $8.344 billion for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This budget reflects a government-wide effort to reduce spending and find cost-savings, and is $105 million below the EPA’s enacted level for FY 2012. The FY 2013 budget is the result of EPA’s ongoing efforts to carefully consider potential cost savings and reductions while continuing its commitment to core environmental and health protections -- safeguarding Americans from pollution in the air they breathe, the water they drink and the land where they build their communities.

“This budget is focused on fulfilling EPA’s core mission to protect health and the environment for millions of American families. It demonstrates fiscal responsibility, while still supporting clean air, healthy waters and innovative safeguards that are essential to an America built to last,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. “It has taken hard work and difficult choices to reach this balanced approach, and while we had to make sacrifices, we have maintained our commitment to the core priorities of this agency and ensured the protections the American people expect and deserve.”

Key FY 2013 budget highlights include:

Supporting State Governments. The budget proposes $1.2 billion in categorical grants for states that are on the front lines implementing environmental statutes such as the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act. The increases from FY 2012 levels include nearly $66 million for State and Tribal Air Quality Management grants, nearly $27 million for Pollution Control (Clean Water Act Section 106) grants, and about $29 million for the Tribal General Assistance Program.

Protecting America’s Waters. The proposal provides $2 billion for Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving funds (SRFs). This will allow the SRFs to finance over $6 billion in wastewater and drinking water infrastructure projects annually. EPA will work to target assistance to small and underserved communities with limited ability to repay loans, while maintaining state program integrity.

Cleaning Up Contaminated Sites in Communities. The proposal includes $755 million in funding for the Superfund Cleanup program which maintains funding to support cleanup at hazardous waste sites that address emergencies (Superfund Emergency Response and Removal) at the nation’s highest priority sites (Superfund Remedial).

Investing in Cutting Edge Research. EPA’s proposed budget provides $576 million to support research and innovation. Science to Achieve Results (STAR) grants are funded at $81 million to conduct research in key areas such as hydraulic fracturing, potential endocrine disruptors, and green infrastructure. Building upon ongoing research and collaborating with the Department of Energy and the US Geological Survey, a total $14 million investment will begin to assess potential impacts of hydraulic fracturing on air quality, water quality, and ecosystems. The EPA also will release an Interim Report on the Impacts of Hydraulic Fracturing on Drinking Water Resources in 2012.

Ongoing Support to Economically and Environmentally Vital Water Bodies. To ensure the progress made during the past three years continues, EPA is proposing $300 million for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. Programs and projects will target the most significant environmental problems in the Great Lakes. About $73 million, which is a $15 million increase, will fund the Chesapeake Bay program’s continued implementation of the President’s Executive Order on Chesapeake Bay Protection and Restoration. Funding will support bay watershed states as they implement their plans to reduce nutrient and sediment pollution in an unprecedented effort to restore this economically important ecosystem.

Protecting Americans from Harmful Chemicals. EPA is proposing $68 million, an increase of $11 million from FY 2012, to reduce chemical risks, increase the pace of chemical hazard assessments, and provide the public with greater access to toxic chemical information. Funding will sustain the agency’s successes in managing the potential risks of new chemicals coming into the market and accelerating the progress to help ensure the safety of chemicals on the market that have not been tested for adverse human health and environmental impacts.

Next Generation Compliance. EPA’s budget proposal requests $36 million to support “Next Generation Compliance”, a new enforcement model designed to enhance EPA’s ability to detect violations that impact public health. The three components of this approach are: promoting electronic reporting by facilities, modifying data systems to implement electronic reporting, and deploying modern monitoring technology. This will work toward improved compliance and transparency, and more efficient processes that do not rely on paper-based reporting. And, create cost savings and efficiencies for EPA, states and industry.

Supporting the National Fuel Economy and Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Standards Program. The budget contains a $10 million increase to the EPA’s National Vehicle and Fuel Emissions Laboratory for certification and compliance testing programs and to evaluate new biofuels technologies. The national program of fuel economy and Greenhouse Gas (GHG) standards for light duty vehicles alone will save approximately 12 billion barrels of oil and prevent 6 billion metric tons of GHG emissions over the lifetime of the vehicles sold through model year 2025. These funds will improve testing methods for the agency’s renewable fuels program, and the GHG and fuel economy programs intended to reduce dependence on oil and save consumers money at the pump.

Reducing and Eliminating Programs. The budget includes $50 million in savings by eliminating several EPA programs that have either completed their goals or can be implemented through other federal or state efforts.

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