EPA’s Budget Seeks Increased Environmental Protection

The Obama administration proposed a budget of $10 billion for EPA that includes $1.3 billion for cleanup of Superfund sites, $215 million for cleanup of brownfields and $27 million for the agency’s new Healthy Community Initiative.

“To meet our environmental challenges and ensure fiscal responsibility, we’re proposing targeted investments in core priorities. This budget cuts spending while promoting clean air, land and water; growing the green economy; and strengthening enforcement,” said EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson. ”The president’s budget is focused on creating the conditions that help American families, communities and small businesses thrive. Clean air, clear water and green jobs are rebuilding the foundations for prosperity in communities across the country.”

The budget includes $1.3 billion to address Superfund sites that may be releasing harmful or toxic substances into the surrounding community. Cleaning up these sites improves communities’ health and allows for these properties to be used for economic development.

In addition, $215 million is provided to clean up abandoned or underused industrial and commercial sites that are available for alternative uses but where redevelopment may be complicated by the presence of environmental contaminants. Revitalizing these once productive properties, known as brownfields, helps communities by removing blight, satisfying the growing demand for land, and enabling economic development. EPA will focus its efforts on area-wide planning and cleanups, especially in under-served and economically disadvantaged communities.

This budget also offers $27 million for EPA’s new Healthy Communities Initiative. This initiative will address community water priorities; promote clean, green, and healthy schools; improve air toxics monitoring in at-risk communities; and encourage sustainability by helping to ensure that policies and spending at the national level do not adversely affect the environment and public health or disproportionally harm disadvantaged communities.

In addition to the funding provided through the Healthy Communities Initiative, the budget includes $60 million to support state efforts to implement updated National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS). EPA proposed stricter air quality standards for smog and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and will work with states to help them meet those standards in the years ahead.

The budget includes $1.3 billion for state and tribal grants. State and local governments are working diligently to implement new and expanded requirements under the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act. New and expanded requirements include implementation of updated NAAQS and addressing emerging water quality issues such as nutrient pollution. In addition to the $25 million for greenhouse gas permitting and $60 million to support state efforts to implement updated NAAQS, the $1.3 billion for state and tribal grants includes $45 million for states to enhance their water enforcement and permitting programs.

To help tribes move forward with implementation of environmental programs, $30 million is budgeted for a new, competitive, Tribal Multi-Media Implementation grant program. To further enhance tribal environmental management capabilities, the budget also includes an additional $9 million for Tribal General Assistance Program grants.

The budget contains more than $43 million for additional efforts to address climate change and work toward a clean energy future. EPA will implement the greenhouse gas reporting rule; provide technical assistance to ensure that any permitting under the Clean Air Act will be manageable; perform regulatory work for the largest stationary sources of greenhouse gas emissions; develop standards for mobile sources such as cars and trucks; and continue research of carbon capture and sequestration technologies.

The budget broadens efforts to clean up America’s great waterbodies. It provides $63 million for efforts to protect and restore the Chesapeake Bay and $17 million for the Mississippi River Basin to respond to non-point source control recommendations of the Nutrients Innovation Task Group and implement recommendations outlined in the Gulf of Mexico Hypoxia Action Plan.

This budget also invests $3.3 billion to maintain and improve outdated water infrastructure and keep wastewater and drinking water clean and safe. This is in addition to $6 billion in funding provided to states through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).

The budget calls for $56 million for chemical assessment and risk review to ensure that no unreasonable risks are posed by new or existing chemicals. The budget also invests $29 million (including $15 million in grants funding) in the continuing effort to eliminate childhood lead poisoning, and $6 million to support national efforts to mitigate exposure to high-risk legacy chemicals, such as mercury and asbestos.

The budget contains $8 million for environmental justice programs. It targets increased brownfields investments to under-served and economically disadvantaged neighborhoods, and proposes $9 million for community water priorities in the Healthy Communities Initiative, funds that will help under-served communities restore urban waterways and address water quality challenges.

For more information about EPA’s budget, visit http://www.epa.gov/budget.

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