PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH has proposed a $7.76 billion budget for the Washington, D.C-based Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in fiscal year 2005. These monies represent a $133 million increase over his fiscal year 2004 budget request. However, the total is down 7 percent from the $8.4 billion that Congress allocated to the EPA during the current budget year.
According to the Bush Administration, the budget should allow the EPA to protect public health and the environment in five strategic areas: clean air and global climate change; clean and safe water; preservation and restoration; healthy communities and ecosystems; and compliance and environmental stewardship.
A primary goal in fiscal year 2004 was better waste management. Consequently, Bush allotted 24.2 percent of the agency's overall budget to promote safe waste storage, treatment and disposal; cleanup active and inactive waste disposal sites; prevent the release of oil and chemicals; and make Brownfields a “top environmental priority.”
For fiscal year 2005, Bush suggested the $7.76 billion be distributed by giving:
$120 million to Brownfields cleanup, including an increase in grants and loans to fund cleanups of lightly contaminated sites.
$1.4 billion for the Superfund, which, according to the EPA, represents a 48 percent boost in the fund's remedial program.
$4.4 billion for EPA regulatory, research and enforcement activities, and state program grants.
“With the president's budget, we can increase the velocity of environmental protection, protecting our land, cleaning our air and cleansing our water, efficiently, effectively and without impairing the economy,” says Mike Leavitt, EPA administrator.
However, not everyone is sure the president's plan provides enough money.
“This budget not only shortchanges our environment, it challenges our nation's role as a global environmental leader,” says Sen. Jim Jeffords, I-Vt. “Virtually every environmental program under my committee's jurisdiction has been targeted for funding cuts. Congress will not let this stand.” Jeffords is the ranking member of the Senate Environmental Public Works Committee, which oversees some of the EPA's programs.
According to the committee's analysis, the cuts have included:
A decrease of $21 million in clean air and global climate change programs;
A decrease of approximately 40 Superfund sites targeted for remediation. The Bush administration pledged to remediate 40 Superfund sites, whereas an average of 87 sites per year were cleaned during the second Clinton administration.
Cuts to the Army Corps. of Engineers budget by 13.1 percent, canceling funding for 43 ongoing projects and delaying approximately 1,000 current construction projects.
For more information, visit www.epa.gov/ocfo, following the link to the fiscal year 2005 budget.