EPA says Bush's budget request strengthens base environmental program

Feb. 5, 2003
Pledging a strengthened focus on cleaner air, purer water and better protected land, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Christie Whitman announced President Bush's proposed Fiscal Year 2004 budget request of $7.63 billion to support EPA's mission of protecting human health and the environment.

Feb. 5, 2003 -- Pledging a strengthened focus on cleaner air, purer water and better protected land, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Christie Whitman announced President Bush's proposed Fiscal Year 2004 budget request of $7.63 billion to support EPA's mission of protecting human health and the environment.

The budget strengthens EPA's base programs for air, water and land and fosters strong partnerships to achieve environmental goals. The request also soundly supports these important efforts through the use of strong science.

The budget request is a $10 million increase from last year's request and includes a seven percent, or $280 million, increase over the previous budget request to strengthen the Agency=s core operating programs for air, water, land and enforcement activities.

"A budget is not just a spending plan; it is truly a policy document," said Whitman. "This proposed budget reflects our priorities for the Agency, our commitment to building strong partnerships, our belief in strong science, and our determination to leave America's air cleaner, its water purer, and its land better protected than we found it."

Included in the budget request are resources for the President's Clear Skies initiative and an increase in funding for the Agency's core water state grant programs. It also bolsters the Agency's Superfund cleanup program and the Brownfields program with increased funding to foster healthy and economically sustainable communities by reinvigorating them and attracting new investments. In addition, it provides newly authorized funding for EPA's Great Lakes Program.

"The budget fully reflects the obligation we all have--government, industry, indeed every American--to be good, faithful stewards of the natural environment entrusted to us," said Whitman. "Last week, in his State of the Union address, the President called on Congress to 'protect our environment in ways that generations before us could not have imagined.' He called for passage of several far-reaching proposals to make America's air cleaner and healthier, including Clear Skies legislation which would result in real improvement in the quality of the air we breathe."

A key environmental priority for the Bush Administration, the budget strongly supports the President's Clear Skies initiative, an aggressive plan to cut power plant air emission by 70 percent to protect the public health and environment, dedicating $7.7 million to support the initiative. Clear Skies will reduce harmful air emissions from power plants faster than current law and will protect public health and the environment by dramatically improving America's air quality. The budget also includes a $7 million increase for a total of $16.5 million for air toxics monitoring grants which will greatly assist efforts to improve our ability to understand population exposure to air toxics. An additional $3 million, bringing the total to $23.9 million, has been focused towards the agency's efforts on children's asthma, including the successful Tools for Schools Program.

Also, the President is requesting an increase of $150 million for Superfund cleanups. These funds specifically target site cleanups and will allow the Agency to address costly sites awaiting construction, and initiate 10 to 15 new projects. The budget also supports a $10 million increase above last year's funding for the Brownfields grant program, which remains a top environmental priority for this Administration and the Agency. Last year, President Bush signed the Small Business Liability Relief and Brownfields Revitalization and Environmental Restoration Act (P.L. 107-118) and doubled funding for the program, and this additional increase builds on the strength of that commitment. Funding will help as the Agency continues to sustain current and develop further effective partnerships with States, Tribes, and localities to revitalize and restore Brownfields properties.

The budget also contains a nearly $21 million increase in the budget for the enforcement and compliance program. This additional spending request will allow us to strengthen our federal enforcement effort by 100 FTE. A targeted deployment of these resources will ensure an integrated approach to compliance and serve as a powerful deterrent to would-be violators. EPA will maximize compliance and achieve environmental results through targeted inspections and enforcement, respond to citizen and other types of complaints, and enhance field presence to address recalcitrant violators of water, air and hazardous waste laws.

Science has long played a vital role in improving America's environment--from targeting priority chemical concerns, to better identifying sources of pollution, and designing strategies to control it. The credibility of the Agency's decisions depends on the strength and quality of the science underlying them. This budget supports increases in funding to research programs such as Computational Toxicology with a $5.9 million increase, sensitive populations including additional funding for children's health and the agency's new Aging Initiative, and the Integrated Risk Information System.

The budget places a particular emphasis on addressing the serious challenges the Nation is facing in achieving purer water for all Americans. Not only will these resources strengthen our own programs, but they will allow the Agency to work with States to strengthen their own core water programs, through technical assistance, guidance, training and additional funding. Increases in water program grants will provide States flexibility in meeting our mutual water quality goals. The overall effect of the improvements to the programs will be a stronger, better coordinated water management framework, improved implementation and better information sharing. Our core water programs will increase by $55 million for a total of $470 million. Included in this total, States and Tribes receive an increase of $20 million that will help them fulfill their basic Clean Water Act responsibilities through Clean Water Section 106 Grants, as well as $12 million to enhance State and Tribal capacity through Public Water System Supervision (PWSS) grants. This budget also increases Wetland program grants by $5 million. This funding will enhance States' efforts to protect these waters as part of comprehensive programs that will achieve no net loss of wetlands.

Another important funding initiative included in EPA's budget is $15 million for Great Lakes sediment cleanup activities under the recently passed Great Lakes Legacy Act. These additional resources, which nearly double the amount provided for the Great Lakes Program, will help EPA and its partners assess and remediate contaminated sediments, and support local protection and restoration. Cleanup initiated by new funding in 2004 will lead to the remediation of over 100,000 cubic yards of contaminated sediments. Additionally, the budget also provides $8 million for planning and design of improvements for drinking water infrastructure in Puerto Rico. When upgrades are complete, EPA estimates that approximately 1.4 million people will enjoy safer, cleaner drinking water.

Information Technology is another area that is critical to strengthening EPA's programs. Therefore, EPA will increase the availability of quality, useful health and environmental information; provide access to new analytical tools to improve the ease of interpretation and the accuracy of information; and improve the Agency's information infrastructure and security. This budget makes investments in EPA's Information Office of $30.8 million that will further the Agency's commitment to expanding e-Government, in support of the President's Management Agenda (PMA).

For more information, visit www.epa.gov/ocfo.

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