Bush Budget Balloons America's Environmental Deficit

Remarks of Wesley Warren, Deputy Director of NRDC's Advocacy Center
During Today's EMS Environmental Budget Briefing

WASHINGTON (February 4, 2004) - "The Bush administration's budget reveals a ballooning environmental deficit that is growing even greater than the fiscal deficit. The reason for this is the disproportional cuts that have been directed at environmental programs even as overall domestic spending increases. Between FY 2004 and FY 2005 total investments in environmental protection would decrease by $1.9 billion or nearly six percent. Over the next five years, as the loss of purchasing power taxes remaining resources, the shortfall compared to FY 2004 grows dramatically to a total of $7.0 billion.

"The lack of commitment to the environment is not surprising given what President Bush had to say in his State of the Union address about environmental protection -- which was nothing. If the State of the Union was the president's 'moment of silence' on the environment, his administration's huge cuts in environmental funding prove that actions speak much louder than words.

"The budget proposal for the Environmental Protection Agency, which reduces the agency's funding by 7.2 percent, is a clear case in point about the administration's environmental priorities. We've grown used to the administration's Orwellian language to disguise the true intentions of its policies. The Bush air pollution plan, which would actually dirty our air, is known as "Clear Skies"; the plan to save our forests by cutting down more trees was dubbed "Healthy Forests."

"This year's EPA budget offers three great deceptions. First, the administration has been touting increases in water quality money for the Great Lakes and the Chesapeake Bay. Yet these regions, and the nation as a whole, end up net losers on water quality assistance when one takes into account the overall reduction of $827 million in water pollution projects. Second, the administration claims that it supports 'sound science' in decision-making, but inexplicably cuts the EPA science budget by $93 million or an astonishing 12 percent. Finally, the administration proposes a small yet welcome increase in Superfund ($124 million), but refuses reinstating the Superfund "polluters pay" fee -- leaving taxpayers to foot the bill. Until the fee is reinstated, ensuring the polluters pay to clean up their mess, the Superfund program will never have the resources needed to get the job done."

Click here (60k pdf file) for a more detailed analysis of the budget.