Rep. Albert Wynn, D-Md., chairman of the House Environment and Hazardous Materials Subcommittee, said Bush’s $7.1 billion request for EPA is notably low compared to last year’s funding, as well as compared to authorized budgets in years past. The FY 2009 budget request, for example, represents a $1.3 billion cut from EPA’s authorized $8.4 billion budget in FY 2004.
This proposal, Wynn claimed, would “dramatically cut spending by $400 million for environmental programs that are pivotal to the protection of public health and safety.”
“National budgets should reflect our national priorities,” said Wynn. “Clearly, President Bush has not made environmental protection a priority during the course of his administration.”
Budget Cuts to Impact Important EPA Programs
The proposal, according to Wynn, fails to adequately address environmental justice issues as only $4.6 million was allocated to EPA’s Office of Environmental Justice, a stark decrease from last year’s allocation of $7.1 million. Such cuts would have serious implications for the health of minorities and low-income families, since these populations often live close to industrial zones, power plants and toxic waste sites, Wynn stated.
The Superfund program also will suffer, he added, as the funding for remediating hazardous waste sites – funding that already is inadequate, he said – would be cut by $4.5 million.
Wynn also noted that the president’s budget shortchanges the Leaking Underground Storage Tanks (LUST) Trust Fund, which helps pay to clean up leaking underground tanks that pollute drinking water supplies. Congress enacted legislation last year that provided $102.1 million for the LUST Trust Fund for FY 2008. Bush’s FY 2009 budget, however, cuts that funding by $29.8 million and provides only $72.3 million for the LUST Trust Fund.
“The Government Accountability Office has found that nationally we will need over $12 billion in public funds to clean up leaking tanks and the EPA has confirmed that over 108,000 releases from leaking underground storage tanks have not been addressed,” Wynn said. “Meanwhile, the president proposes further reducing funding for the LUST Trust Fund.”
In May of last year, Wynn wrote House appropriators to request increased funding for EPA public health programs. Wynn and Rep. Hilda Solis, D-Calif., the vice chair of the Environment and Hazardous Materials Subcommittee, wrote a similar letter last year requesting increased funding for EPA’s Office of Environmental Justice.