President Obama’s budget would provide $8.2 billion for the Environmental Protection Agency, a $252 million increase from the funding the agency has for fiscal 2013, but a 3.5 percent cut from the agency’s enacted 2012 spending plan.
EPA Acting Administrator Bob Perciasepe said the budget represents an increase from the $7.9 billion the agency has for fiscal year 2013 after sequestered funds are subtracted. About $176 million is targeted at greenhouse gas emissions and their impact, including $20 million to study effects on human and ecosystem health, he said.
The spending plan would “continue efforts to restore significant ecosystems” in places such as the Cheseapeake Bay, the Great Lakes and the Gulf Coast, according to the White House document.
The budget “reflects our firm commitment to keeping American communities across our country healthy and clean, while also taking into consideration the difficult fiscal situation and the declining resources of state, local and tribal programs,” Perciasepe said.
He also said the agency is budgeting $60 million to reduce the “reporting burden” on private industry by establishing interactive online systems for their use. For example, he said, the agency hopes to modernize the system that tracks the transport of hazardous waste, which still relies on millions of paper manifests.
But the budget would cut a loan fund that cities and states use to build clean water and sewage treatment infrastructure by $472 million, continuing a trend in that direction, according to Jon Scott, spokesman for Clean Water Action, an advocacy group.
“This is a serious blow. It will have a jobs impact. It will have a water quality impact,” he said. “But even more serious is enforcing the law…and that’s done by state agencies.”
The budget also would sharply decrease funding for a program that provides grants to reduce emissions from diesel engines, from $30 million in 2012 to $6 million in 2014.
“The Obama administration has clearly decided to declare victory and walk away, even though by EPA’s own admission, there’s still a massive diesel pollution problem,” said Frank O’Donnell, president of Clean Air Watch, a nonprofit environmental group.