President Seeks to Cut EPA Budget

One of the hardest-hit agencies in the Bush administration's 2005 budget request is the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which is facing a proposed reduction of 7.2 percent from fiscal year 2004 spending levels.

EPA Administrator Michael Leavitt pitched the request as a $133 million increase compared to the president's 2004 request, but Congress later appropriated more money than the president requested for EPA in 2004. "We are adopting better ways facilitating collaboration, harnessing technology, creating market incentives and we are committed to measuring progress, not process," said Leavitt.

The $7.76 billion proposed 2005 budget for EPA would cut funds for building waste treatment plants, from $1.3 billion this year to $850 million next year. The science and research budget would take a hit of approximately $100 million, affecting the study of such politically sensitive topics as the health effects of airborne particulates and global climate change. Spending for drinking water pipes and facilities would be reduced by more than $400 million, or approximately 75 percent.

On the other hand, Bush requested $1.4 billion for superfund cleanups, an increase of almost 10 percent that would allow for up to a dozen additional construction starts in 2005 and a similar number of completions in 2006.

The president also proposed spending $45 million for the cleanup of contaminated sediment in the Great Lakes, almost five times the 2004 level of $10 million. The sediment remediation program is designed to keep toxics such as PCBs and heavy metals from entering the food chain, where they may cause adverse effects on human health and the environment.

The big increase in sediment remediation spending may reflect the fact that the 2005 budget is an election-year budget. Several key election battleground states bordering the Great Lakes would benefit from the program, including Michigan, Wisconsin and Ohio.

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