The Washington Post incorrectly reported yesterday that 9,000 of 70,000 Occupational Safety and Health Administrationinspectors would be dropped because of proposed budget cuts. It should have said inspections. There are about 2,700OSHA employees altogether, and OSHA officials said yesterday they would be minimally affected by the proposed budget reductions.
The federal regulators that Ronald Reagan so often denounced in his political campaigns were among the chief casualties of the new administration's deep budget cuts.
At the Department of Energy, for instance, the termination of regulatory programs and other cutbacks in energy conservation and development activities will lower the payroll from 19,827 full-time employes at the end of last year to 17,178 at the end of 1982, the administration said. And that decline is a net reduction, after DOE adds personnel to carry out a planned increase in nuclear programs totaling $400 million in budget authority over the 1981-82 fiscal years. The Reagan budget includes $254 million in fiscal 1982 to begin construction of the controversial Clinch River, Tenn., nuclear breeder reactor.
Raymond Romatowski, the acting deputy energy secretary, said the department indicated that signigicant RIFs (reductions in force) lie ahead, and spoke of "telescoping some of our people" as programs are reduced or eliminated andstaff's combined. s
DOE's Energy Retainer Administration, which has enforced the government's energy price controls and planned a standby gasoline rationing scheme, will see its staff reduced from 1,300 to 250 by the end of the 1982 fiscal year, under the administration's plan. Romatowski said that, despite the reduction, the department would not "walk away from" the prosecution of past violations of federal energy price controls. He did not have details on how the ERA's enforcement staff would fare under the cutbacks.
Other regulatory agencies truncated by the Reagan budget reductions include the Federal Trade Commission, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the president's Council on Environmental Quality, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
The samll but very visible Council on Environmental Qualitywas glad to be alive, even in a diminished condition. The administration had considered doing away with the CEQ, whoseadvocacy of environmental causes had annoyed many conservative Republicans.
CEQ barely survived. With its 1982 income reduced from $3.7 million to $1.04 million, CEQ's 32 permanent staff members will be cut about in half. But acting Chairman Malcolm Baldwin said that the fact the council stillexists at all is "a very positive sign. It does show administration sensitivity to environmental issues."
EPA's operating budget dropped $1.50 million in what an OMB official called "a large number of small slices across the board." Heaviest hit were programs to regulate excessive noise, almost silenced by a reduction from $13 million to $3 million. Low-level radiation control programs "have been on the back of the burner here and aren't that big a deal anyway," the source said, and they dropped from $17 million to $13 million.
EPA's research programs on pollution control technology fell 15 percent, from $197 million to $169 million. "Private companies will be picking this up more and more," the OMB official explained. The budget also allocates $13 million less than former president Carter's for air pollution control programs, $17 million less for water programs, $9 million less for pesticides, $3 million less for drinking water and $17million less for solid waste disposal programs.
The largest EPA cut, as expected, was $3.7 billion from the sewage treatment grants for 1982, leaving zero dollars. If Congresspasses legislation to reform the program in line with Reagan's recommendations, however, the administration will propose $2.4 billion for that year.
"This program absolutely does not inflict major damage" to environmental programs, the OMB official insisted. He noted that the Superfund program to finance the claeanup of toxic waste dumps and spill stillcontains $200 million for 1982, which is $50 million less than Carter's proposal but is "definitley enough to do the job." The overall budget, he said, "cuts out program inefficiencies and retargets money to projects that are important."
The Wilderness Society disagreed. "The proposed cuts are really a subterfuge for doing away with the gains achieved over the past decade," said society conservatism director Charles Clusen. "They go way beyond the fat and very deeply into the muscle."
The consumer Product Safety Commission faces a proposed 30 percent budget cut, to $31.3 million next year, and the staff of Federal Trade Commission would be reduced by 40 percent by 1986 under the administration's proposal. Regional offices would be phased out and the size of the Washington headquarters reduced. However, the administration did not carry out an early plan that would have imposed the specifically on the FTC's Bureau of Competition, the agency's antitrust arm.
David A. Stockman, director of the Office of Management and Budget, said that the administration is not using control over spending to carry out major shifts in policy -- such as a reduction in FTC's antitrust enforcement. Instead, it will ask Congress to make such changes directly, through legislation.