WASHINGTON, DC–The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is facing “significant reductions to [its] core programs,” according to a memo from the agency’s Chief Financial Officer released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). Recent actions taken by the Senate may result in as much as $360 million diverted from EPA’s base programs, including Superfund cleanup of toxic sites, grants to states for implementing anti-pollution laws, and programs ranging from combating particulates to protecting the water quality of the Great Lakes.
The September 8 memo, written by EPA’s CFO Linda Combs to acting Administrator Marianne Horinko, centers on the Senate version of the agency’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2004, which officially begins in two weeks on October 1. The Senate actually increased EPA’s proposed budget but it did so by directing $750 million to local water projects and Congressional earmarks. In order to pay for this new spending while staying within budget caps, the bill mandates large cutbacks “to EPA core programs.”
The Combs memo warns, “despite the increase to the over-all Agency [budget] total, the prospects for our core programs are sobering…” For example, in the area of Environmental Program Management, Combs states that congressional “add-ons” will necessitate “a general Reduction of more than $40,000,000, the largest in recent memory to this account.” Other programs hardest hit by the Senate actions include
Superfund: a $125 million reduction in the amount requested by President Bush;
Grants to states: a $72 million cut in support of state anti-pollution efforts; and
Science and technology: a $60 million cut spread among a host of programs.
While the Senate version of the EPA budget is pending on the Senate floor before it goes to a two-house conference committee to reconcile differences with the House version, the “very misleading” overall budget increases will make reversal of the Senate Appropriation Committee’s actions difficult.
“Today, EPA is a rudderless bureaucracy without strong leadership capable of protecting its mission,” commented PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch. “Without strong intervention by an as yet indifferent Administration, the nation’s basic environmental safety net may be ripped apart by hundreds of short knives carving out pork barrel projects.”
Read the memo from EPA’s Chief Financial Officer.
See the spreadsheet with comparison summaries for EPA’s FY04 budget.