The Reagan administration will seek a fiscal 1984 budget for the Environmental Protection Agency with a 25 percent cut in grants to state agencies that enforce federal laws covering air and water pollution, hazardous waste sites and pesticide registration, according to sources familiar with the budget.
The proposed $58 million reduction represents more than half of the $92 million cut sought for that portion of EPA's operating budget funded by general revenues. In practice, it would mean more than a 10 percent cutback in most state environmental control budgets.
"There's budget stringency in most states, but these would really hurt the states that are having the worst problems, like the ones in the industrial Midwest," Ned Helme, staff director of the National Governors' Association's energy and environment committee, said.
"If budgets are tight and human needs--welfare payments, health care money--are going to compete against environmental needs, human needs are going to come first," he added.
Overall, EPA's fiscal 1984 operating budget would increase by $8 million over its current level. The overall budget, however, includes a $100 million increase in funds earmarked for the Superfund, a pool of money to clean up toxic waste dumps that is funded by a tax on companies that produce hazardous waste.
In most cases, the proposed cuts in state grants parallel what Administrator Anne M. Gorsuch sought--and Congress rejected--in the fiscal 1983 budget battle.
State air and water programs would be hit hardest if Gorsuch prevails this time around. EPA is proposing to cut water pollution grants by 55 percent, or $30 million; air pollution grants would decrease by 17 percent, or $14.7 million.
While the cuts in waste grants would not be as severe--3.6 percent, or $1.6 million--they would have a significant impact since most state programs are in the formative stage and rely on the federal government for about 70 percent of their funds.