President Reagan proposes to make more deep budget cuts in the Environmental Protection Agency, this time eliminating one-fourth of the federal grants to state pollution control programs.
The $60 million cut in aid to the states would more than halve the amount of federal assistance to state agencies that enforce water pollution laws, from $54.2 million in fiscal 1983 to $24 million in 1984. "It isn't going to be easy" for the states to keep up their present enforcement and monitoring programs, EPA Comptroller Morton Kinghorn said.
EPA also proposes significant reductions in funds for state programs to control pesticides, air pollution and toxic-waste dumping.
These reductions would account for more than two-thirds of the proposed $75 million cut in the agency's regulatory budget. They are expected to meet stiff resistance in Congress and have already drawn fire from state officials who argue that EPA has shifted too much responsibility and too little money to them.
The overall fiscal 1984 operating budget seeks $920 million for EPA's basic regulatory programs, compared with $1.35 billion in the last year of the Carter administration. This would reduce the agency's full-time staff to about 8,000, compared with 11,400 when Reagan took office, according to EPA officials.
More than 200 positions would be eliminated from water quality programs, as the agency calls on industry and the states to perform studies previously handled by the federal government, the officials said. The budget continues the trend of cutting money for scientific studies and the staff responsible for enforcing pollution control laws, but proposes smaller cuts than in the last two years.
It proposes spending $310 million for the "Superfund" program, created to pay for the cleanup of the country's worst hazardous waste dumps and to prosecute companies responsible for them. The figure represents a $100 million increase over estimated 1983 spending, but is less than sponsors of the 1980 Superfund law have advocated.