President Makes Some Tough Choices for EPA Budget, But Overall a Good Proposal

The President’s FY13 budget for the Environmental Protection Agency is essentially the same level as last year but there are increases in the budget for truly high priority activities that should be applauded.  

Overall, the EPA budget is $8.3 billion, $105 million below the enacted level from FY12.  That is a 1.2% decrease from the current year, paid for by a cut of $359 million in funds for the state revolving funds.  Those funds pay for local drinking water and sewage water infrastructure improvement, detailed in my colleague Ben Chou’s blog here.                                  .

However, the parts of the EPA budget that the President protects are very important.  For instance, the main Operating Budget that pays for enforcement, regulators and their work and research and development, receives a 5% increase.  These areas are targets for attacks in Congress, but these are also the nuts and bolts that underpin our environment law, the scientific underpinnings of our standards, and their enforcement.  With the unrelenting attacks in Congress on EPA’s ability to set standards, funding these efforts are critical to protect our environment.

Several geographical water initiatives fared well, including another $300 million for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, $245 million for the Everglades and an increase of $15 million of the Chesapeake Bay.

The other noteworthy increase is in grants to states.  These grants, which pay a significant portion of the state’s regulatory activities, are used to carry out Clean Water and Clean Air permitting activities, as well as most of the nation’s environmental enforcement.  These funds are desperately needed as state sources of revenue have dried up in the current economy, so the President increased these programs by 10%.

Except for the cuts in the state revolving loans funds, the President’s environmental budget puts us on the right track to meet the Agency’s obligation to update and enforce our nation’s environmental standards.