By Ryan Huffman on Feb 15, 2011

President Proposes 12.6 Percent Cut to EPA Funding


In May 2010, President Obama and EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson are briefed about the situation along the Gulf Coast following the BP oil spill. Obama's new budget will still allot funding for oil and chemical facility inspections. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama’s Fiscal Year 2012 budget includes deep cuts across the federal government, and the Environmental Protection Agency may be taking one of the biggest hits.

The President’s budget proposal, released Monday, would cut the EPA’s budget by roughly 12.6 percent
from current levels.

“The President has presented Congress with a responsible budget, one that maintains our core mission of protecting the health of American families, and ensures that we are making the cuts needed to ensure fiscal strength,” EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said on conference call.

The majority of the cuts come from reductions in grants used to help implement local and state environmental projects. State Revolving Funds, which help fund projects like water infrastructure, will be particularly hit hard, slated to lose close to $950 million in the proposed budget.

Also on the chopping block is $125 million in funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, $38 million in contributions to Superfund, and $270 million worth of earmarks and congressionally-directed projects, such as investments in making diesel engines more efficient.

“As millions of families are cutting back and making sacrifices, they expect the same level of discipline out of their government,” Jackson said. “This budget reflects that fiscal discipline and makes many tough choices.”

The budget also includes funding increases to programs within the EPA, including $30.5 million to support more frequent inspections of oil and chemical facilities and stricter enforcement of current regulations. Restoration programs in the Chesapeake Bay would get a $17.4 million boost, and chemical safety regulation efforts would see an increase of $16 million.

Jackson said the EPA’s controversial climate program, which began regulating greenhouse gases in January under the authority of the Clean Air Act, would see an increase of about $43 million in the new budget. That funding will likely face a fierce battle on Capitol Hill, where House Republicans last week unveiled a budget proposal that would cut the EPA’s climate program altogether.

“We’ve been clear that we oppose any efforts to limit EPA’s authority to develop sensible standards for currently unchecked carbon pollution,” Jackson said. “The administration looks forward to working with legislators on both sides of the aisle to protect EPA’s important authority to update the Clean Air Act and protect Americans from dangerous pollution.”

Obama’s budget faces a long journey to approval, with Republicans pushing for deeper cuts and Democrats already expressing concern over the implications of cutting social spending programs. But Jackson said Obama’s budget won’t prevent the EPA from carrying out its chief responsibilities.

“He’s made sure that EPA can continue to safeguard the air we breathe, the water we drink and the places where we build our homes, and that the American people will continue to get the protections they deserve,” she said.

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