Lawmaker: Bush's EPA Budget Cuts Drastic

Rep. Albert Wynn, D-Md., denounced President George W. Bush's FY 2009 budget for EPA, claiming it would result in drastic cuts to important programs addressing environmental justice, Superfund site remediation and underground storage tank cleanup.

Wynn, 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.”

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, which according to him is already inadequate, 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 for cleaning 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.

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.

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