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Obama Budget Proposal Reduces EPA Overall Budget; Pushes Climate Regulations Forward

(Beyond Pesticides, February 4, 2009) The Obama Administration proposed a budget of $10 billion for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which represents an overall cut of $300 million from its 2010 fiscal year budget. However, within its $10 billion budget EPA is proposing a $43.5 million in new funding for climate regulatory efforts in fiscal 2011.

Overall, $1.1 billion is devoted to EPA’s clean air and global climate change program – one of five funding priorities for the agency – that represents about 12 percent of the agency’s budget. Of that, the proposal sets aside $169 million to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The budget would also add $13 million for the Chesapeake Bay. Last year, the Obama administration promised an overhaul of the EPA-led cleanup program, which despite 25 years of effort and billions of dollars failed to improve the bay’s problems with low-oxygen “dead zones.”

“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 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.”

Beyond Pesticides hopes with this new fiscal year, the Obama administration would embrace both improved chemical restrictions and policies for advancing practices that avoid contamination and poisoning of our air, land, water, and food by pesticides and other toxic chemicals, thereby eliminating their hazards to public health, workplace conditions and the environment, and their contribution to global climate change.

Budget Highlights:
Taking Action on Climate Change:
This 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.

Beyond Pesticides believes that efforts to boost carbon sequestration can also go a long way in tackling climate change. Research from the Rodale Institute’s has revealed that organic, regenerative agriculture actually has the potential increase carbon sequestration and lessen the impacts of climate change. This occurs through the drastic reduction in fossil fuel usage to produce the crops (approximately 75% less than conventional agriculture) and the significant increase in carbon sequestration in the soil.

In other efforts to curb greenhouse gas effects, EPA was recently petitioned to cancel the registration of sulfuryl fluoride, a toxic pesticide whose global warming effects are thousands of times stronger than carbon dioxide.

Cleaning Up Communities:
This 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.

Beyond Pesticides’ 28th National Pesticide Forum, Greening the Community, scheduled for April 9-10 at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, OH will host several workshops designed to help communities get pesticides and other toxic chemicals out of their schools, water, lawns and community spaces. For more information and to register, visit www.beyondpesticides.org/forum.

Protecting America’s Waters:
This 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 our 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).

Beyond Pesticides, as urged the Obama administration to protect waterbodies from pesticide contamination by ensuring consistency with the Clean Water Act and restrict pesticides found in surface and ground water at levels above current water quality standards including setting stricter standards for all pesticides, their metabolites, contaminants and inert ingredients. The US Geological Survey routinely detects pesticides in US surface waters and ground waters.

Improving Air Quality:
In addition to the funding provided through the Healthy Communities Initiative, this 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.

Chemical Restrictions:
This budget calls for $56 million for chemical assessments and risk reviews. This budget also allocates $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.

Expanding the Conversation on Environmentalism and Working for Environmental Justice: 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 targeted to underserved communities for the restoration of urban waterways and address water quality challenges. EPA has maintained a commitment to identifying and addressing the health and environmental burdens faced by communities disproportionately impacted by pollution. The agency points to this program as fullfilling its commitment to give people a voice in decisions that impact their lives and to integrate environmental justice in EPA programs, policies and activities.

Source: EPA News Release


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