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Great Lakes Article:

Bush Administration Proposes Sweeping Cuts to Environmental Enforcement, Water Quality Monitoring, and Important Water Quality Programs

Clean Water Network
04/12/2002

Last Monday the Bush Administration proposed a budget for Fiscal Year (FY) 2003 that would seriously cripple further progress towards meeting the goals of the Clean Water Act. Though many of the proposed cuts are not as drastic as the cuts proposed by Bush last year, the clean water budget proposed by Bush would decrease our understanding of water quality problems, seriously undermine environmental enforcement efforts, and hamper progress being made and future success of critical clean water programs.

Below is the list of the Network's top clean water budget concerns. Over the next few months the Network will be educating Members of Congress about the importance of these programs, and we will be circulating sign-on letters for you to sign on to. For now, the most important thing you can do is to get the word out in your local and state press calling on your Members of Congress to restore funds. Most likely your state paper printed the Associated Press article on the budget, but did not include a description of the cuts to clean water. We are encouraging all Network members to submit a letter to the editor this week. Below you will find a sample letter. Please tailor it to fit the clean water conditions in your state. OR

** Use our Media Guide to search for reporters in your area and to directly e-mail them this letter to the editor. It will only take you a few minutes to reach your local press! Go to capwiz.com/cwn/dbq/media.

Call the Network for more information on the budget at 202-289-2421. To see EPA's buget, go to http://www.epa.gov/ocfo/budget/budget.htm.

It should be noted that some good things did come out of Bush's budget. Bush proposed reducing the Army Corps of Engineers (the Corps) budget for several of their most environmentally harmful projects. We will have to see, however, if Bush will stands his ground when Congress considers theCorps' budget. Members will definitely add pork barrel projects for their state to the Corps budget. Additionally, the Administration did propose a $300 million floodplain mapping project to be completed by the the Federal Emergency Management Agency. This type of project has been desperately needed for clean water, wetlands protection and flood protection for many years and is a big step in the right direction.

Top Clean Water Network Bush FY03 Budget Concerns:

1. Bush proposed a $15 million grant program for state enforcement. To pay for this program, EPA will have to reduce its enforcement staff by about 200 full-time equivalents. This large cut is the result of vacancies not filled last year as well as additional cuts to parts of the enforcement budget this year. When Bush tried to cut enforcement last year, Congress rejected a $25 million state enforcement grant program and the move to decrease the number of EPA enforcement employees. Congress reinstated full funding for EPA enforcement personnel. However, in FY02 vacancies were never filled and additional cuts were proposed this year.

2. Bush proposed to cut the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (SRF) by $138 million, a 10 percent reduction(proposed $1.2 million in FY03 compared to the $1.35 billion enacted by Congress in FY02.) The State Revolving Fund is used to provide low-cost loans to communities for a variety of programs to clean up impaired water bodies and protect pristine waters. Under the SRF, states have considerable ability to choose which water infrastructure and water quality projects are priorities. Since its creation in 1987, states have used these federal funds to help improve water quality.

3. Bush proposed a $21 million voluntary watershed initiative doled out in competitive grants to the states. Rather than investing dollars in a new, voluntary-based program, we should first ensure that the existing, severely underfunded watershed program, the Total Maximum Daily Load program, receives substantial boosts. Voluntary programs though potentially beneficial to water quality, are not a substitute for meeting the requirements for watershed clean-up plans or TMDLs under the

Clean Water Act.

4. Bush proposed cutting Section 106 grants by $12 million (proposed $180 million compared to FY02 enacted level of $192 million). This program provides funding for the states including pollution control activities, surveillance, monitoring, enforcement, and advice and assistance to local agencies. This program should be increased substantially, not decreased, to provide states with assistance to meet TMDL deadlines and to perform water quality monitoring.

5. Bush proposed $850 million for Safe Drinking Water State Revolving Fund-the same amount appropriated by Congress last year but $27 million more than Bush proposed last year. EPA says they are requesting $27 million more than requested last year to help communities comply withthe arsenic standard.

6. Bush proposed significantly cutting water quality monitoring and streamgage activities under the U.S. Geological Survey. He proposed a $5 million cut to the National Water Quality Assessment Program (NAWQA),the nation's only national water quality monitoring program; a $2 million cut in streamgaging activities which would result in 130 less streamgages nationwide; elimination of the Toxic Substances Hydrology Program which tracks the movement of toxic substances and identifies emerging clean water concerns, and elimination of the Water Resources Research Institute which would end research collaboration with 200 universities.

7. Bush proposed cutting the National Estuary Program by $5.3 million, or 21% from FY02 levels. Congress authorized $35 million and Bush proposes $19.2 million. Less than $1 million would be available for eachof the 28 "nationally significant" estuaries.

8. Bush proposed $10 million for Beaches Environmental Assessment and Coastal Health Act (BEACH) grants to states to help them improve water quality monitoring and public notification programs under the BEACH Act. The Act, however, authorized $30 million for these grants and we call on Bush and Congress to fully fund this Act.

SAMPLE LETTER TO THE EDITOR

Dear Editor,

This year the Clean Water Act turns 30. Since the Act was passed in 1972 huge strides have been made in cleaning up our Nation's waters. As we've tackled the obvious eye-sores, less obvious clean water problems have been on the rise. Last Monday President Bush had the opportunity to put our country on the path to cleaner water and a more healthy and sustainable environment and economy. In countless polls voters say clean water is a top concern. However, instead of choosing to move us forward on the path to clean water, Bush has decided to leave us treading water.

In his 2003 budget, Bush ignored the concerns of the American people and chose to instead decrease our understanding of water quality problems, seriously undermine environmental enforcement efforts, and hamper clean water progress being made at the state level. He is proposing to weaken environmental enforcement by cutting the enforcement budget at the Environmental Protection Agency and taking 200 environmental cops off the beat. He is proposing to cut programs that provide critical monies and technical expertise to state agencies charged with keeping their waters clean. He is even proposing to side-step the letter of the law to develop voluntary programs to replace requirements under the Clean Water Act. I call on Representatives [INSERT NAMES OF YOUR REPS HERE] and Senators [INSERT NAMES OF SENATORS HERE] to restore these cuts to our vital clean water programs.

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