Bush Seeks Nearly 6 Percent Cut in
By Chris Baltimore
Reuters News Service
Published February 8th, 2005
WASHINGTON - The Bush administration Monday proposed
cutting the Environmental Protection Agency budget by
nearly 6 percent to $7.57 billion in fiscal 2006 by targeting
a program that helps cities replace aging sewage systems.
The EPA said the requested reduction was part of the
federal government's overall belt-tightening, but environmental
groups said it would hurt an important clean water program.
Total EPA funding would decline from $8 billion, which
Congress allocated in the current budget year for the
agency to protect the nation's air, water and land. In
2004, the EPA had a budget of $8.4 billion.
Acting EPA administrator Steve Johnson defended the plan
as "a strong request that allows us to keep up the
pace of environmental protections" and said the cuts
were part of the administration's larger deficit-cutting
plan. The White House is facing a record federal budget
Most of the EPA cut proposed for 2006 is from a reduction
in funding for a revolving fund that states use to upgrade
sewage and septic systems, and storm-water run-off projects.
Funding for the fund fell $361 million, or 33 percent,
in the Bush administration budget proposal.
Environmental groups say cities need the loans and grants
to replace and upgrade aging sewage systems, some of which
are over a century old.
"This year's cuts are really bad for clean water,"
said Rob Perks at the Natural Resources Defense Council.
But the lower request actually offsets higher funds appropriated
by Congress in 2004 and 2005, which will maintain the
total commitment to the program of $6.8 billion through
2011, an EPA spokeswoman said. "Federal funding of
this program was never intended to be permanent,"
The decision to cut the state water program was "one
of savings and making some tough choices," Johnson
The administration's budget plan would hold steady a
separate $850 million state fund for clean drinking water.
The EPA budget also would increase by $47 million funding
to clean up 600 toxic "brownfield" sites and
add $28 million to remove toxic sediments from the Great
Money for Superfund -- an industry program to clean up
toxic waste sites -- would rise slightly to $1.28 billion.
Congress will debate and revise the White House budget
proposal over the next few months before finalizing a
government spending plan for fiscal 2006, which begins
on Oct. 1.