EPA administrator praises president's EPA budget

EPA Administrator Christie Whitman praised President Bush's budget for all it accomplishes for the nation and the environment.

March 1, 2001—EPA Administrator Christie Whitman praised President Bush's budget for all it accomplishes for the nation and the environment.

Commenting on the proposed EPA FY2002 budget-$56-million over the request made for FY2001-Whitman said, "The core of EPA's regulatory, research and enforcement activities is in its operating program, which is funded at $3.7 billion, the second highest level in EPA history."

Bush asked Congress to give the EPA $7.3 billion for the 2002 fiscal year - $499 million less than Congress approved for 2001, but $56 million more than the Clinton administration had requested for 2001, a Reuters report said.

The proposal would allocate a record $1 billion of the agency's operating budget for program grants to states and tribal governments, Water Tech Online reports. State wastewater revolving loan funds would receive $1.3 billion, some of which would have to be spent on sewer overflow control. Drinking water grants would total $2 billion.

Highlights of the 2002 Funding:
The following are highlights of the 2002 funding proposed by President Bush to Congress:

* Provide more than $1 billion in grants for states and Tribes to administer environmental programs, the highest level in the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) history.

* Fund EPA's Operating Program, which comprises its core regulatory, research, and enforcement activities, at $3.7 billion-the second highest level ever, and higher than 2001 if unrequested projects are excluded.

* Provide wastewater grants to states at a level $500 million more than requested by the previous Administration for 2001, and directs a portion of those grants to newly authorized sewer overflow control grants.

Redirected Resources
EPA's 2002 proposed funding level of $7.3 billion is $56 million more than the previous administration's 2001 request.

The $499 million reduction from the enacted 2001 level is almost entirely due to the elimination of unrequested earmarks. These reductions are being taken Government-wide and are consistent with EPA's historic practices.

EPA's Operating Program, the core of its regulatory, research, and enforcement activities, is funded at $3.7 billion, the second highest level in EPA history. Included within the Operating Program totals, EPA's program grants to state and tribal governments are funded at the highest level ever, at more than $1 billion. These grants help states and Tribes administer programs delegated to states and Tribes under Federal environmental statutes.

Wastewater grants to states are funded at $1.3 billion, which is $500 million more than requested by the previous Administration for 2001.

The Clean Water state Revolving Loan Fund will be funded consistent with EPA's long-standing $2 billion per year revolving fund goal.

To address Federal mandates to control the biggest remaining municipal wastewater problem, the EPA will request that a portion of these funds be used for the newly authorized sewer overflow control grants.

EPA will also redirect resources to develop new, more effective methods to achieve environmental progress. EPA will set high standards for environmental protection, make those expectations clear, and focus on results and performance.

To reach those goals, EPA will place a greater emphasis on innovative approaches to environmental protection, such as market-based incentives. EPA will also achieve savings by maintaining staff at the current onboard level.

Potential Reforms
The Federal Government will continue to play a crucial role in environmental protection, and EPA will seek higher levels of cooperation among stakeholders.

Currently, the states enforce most environmental laws through delegated state programs. It is estimated that more than 80 percent of environmental enforcement actions and more than 97 percent of environmental inspections are done by the states.

An alternative way to supplement state enforcement efforts would be to increase state enforcement grants. Such a transfer would not jeopardize the EPA's ability to continue enforcement of non-delegated programs or to oversee delegated programs.

Further, this would allow states to prioritize their enforcement needs and determine the proper mix between compliance assistance and prosecution.

In addition, this Administration's EPA will place an emphasis on making better and more appropriate use of information and analysis. The Inspector General, the General Accounting Office, the National Academy of Public Administration, and the Environmental Council of the states have all identified the lack of performance information to hold programs accountable and inform decisions as a top management challenge. EPA will aggressively address this issue.

In addition, EPA intends to improve the role of science in decision-making by having scientific information and analysis help in directing policy and establishing priorities. The EPA will also enhance its approach to environmental information by making data collection and management more efficient and more accurate, reduce paperwork for regulated entities, and standardize business practices. Currently, Federal environmental data are in separate, single-media systems (air, water, solid and hazardous waste). These data cannot be easily integrated. Several innovative states have begun a better way to manage environmental information.

These states are reducing the cost of collecting, managing, and using environmental information through integration and consolidation of data. Reforming the EPA's approach to data collection will facilitate results-based management and multimedia approaches, enable data-sharing across programs, improve access to information, and integrate geographic information. EPA will request $25 million in grant funding to help states better integrate their environmental information systems.

For more information, visit www.whitehouse.gov and www.epa.gov.

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