FY2006 Environmental Protection Agency Appropriations (8-15-05)
Funding for the EPA is allocated to a number of environmental monitoring, compliance and research programs in the areas of clean water, clean air, land preservation, ecosystem restoration, and cleanup of hazardous substances.
For analysis of hearings held by the House and the Senate on EPA appropriations, click here.
The total budget request for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in Fiscal Year (FY) 2006 is $7.6 billion, a 5.6% decrease from the FY05 enacted level. Within this total, the budget calls for an increase of $79 million to expand EPA's role in homeland security efforts. This includes $44 million to launch a pilot program of monitoring and surveillance in select cities to provide early warning of contamination, an increase of $19.4 million for environmental decontamination research, and $11.6 million for security at America's environmental laboratories.
Water quality programs would receive a total of $2.8 billion, 38% of the agency's total budget. Shifts in funding within water programs are intended to promote watershed-based and collaborative programs such as the Great Lakes Legacy Act, which the Administration plans to fully fund at $50 million. Water funding also includes an increase of $24 million for water quality monitoring under state pollution control grants, and an increase of $5.1 million (20%), for state wetlands program development. A steep 33% cut is proposed for the agency's major wastewater infrastructure program, the Clean Water State Revolving Fund, which will be reduced $240 million from the $1.1 billion level enacted for FY 2005. This is in line with a plan to flat fund the program at $730 million through 2011. The Safe Drinking Water State Revolving Loan Fund would remain flat funded at $850 million. The budget would terminate State water quality cooperative agreements, which were funded at $16.8 million in FY05, and it would cut targeted watershed grants by 18% to $15 million. The budget also proposes cuts in federal funding for several regional restoration efforts, including a $2 million (8%) cut for Chesapeake Bay, roughly $1.5 million (over 50%) cut for Long Island Sound and Lake Champlain, and $5.4 million (20%) cut for the National Estuary Program.
The budget proposes to increase brownfields cleanup and redevelopment by $46.9 million to $210 million, $120 million of which would go toward assessment and cleanup and $60 million toward aiding state and tribal programs. Superfund would see a modest increase of $30 million. Total funding for land preservation and restoration programs would be reduced by $115 million.
On May 19, 2005 the House of Representatives passed the Interior and Environment Appropriations bill by a vote of 329 to 89. The bill includes $7.71 billion for the EPA, which would restore $244 million of the $450 million cut requested by the Administration, but still fall far below the funds enacted for FY 2005. Several amendments offered on the floor of the House failed to restore the steep $240 million cut to the Clean Water State Revolving Loan Fund. During the day-long debate on the floor of the House, Appropriations Committee ranking member David Obey (D-WI) made two attempts to restore funding to the program, which provides seed money for states to fund improvements to the wastewater infrastructure. Both amendments failed by roughly 50 votes. According to a report in Environment and Energy (E&E) Daily (May 11, 2005), minority members could not find a way to propose an increase to the fund without making a controversial cut somewhere else in the bill, a challenge which was complicated by the fact that the Interior Department and EPA are now for the first time competing for the same funds.
Where the House failed, the Senate succeeded in making room to restore the deep cuts proposed for the Clean Water State Revolving Loan Fund. Appropriations Committee Chairman Conrad Burns (R-MT) succeeded in funding the popular wastewater management program at $1.1 billion, $370 million over the request. The Senate also approved $850 million for the Drinking Water State Revolving Loan Fund.
The House Appropriations Committee made several other changes to the President's request, including increases to EPA's Office of Science and Technology, adding $4.7 million from the Administration's proposal and $21 million above the FY 2005 enacted level. Increases for human health and ecosystem research, climate change, and $40 million worth of restored Congressional programs were offset by major reductions to the amounts proposed for EPA's Homeland Security preparedness and response programs.
The Environmental Programs and Management account would also receive a $36 million boost above the President's budget and 3% increase from FY 2005, including a similar $40 million in restored Congressional earmarks. To offset this increase, several programs slated for increases under the President's proposal, including a $4 million increase for the Climate Protection Program, were held flat at FY 2005 funding levels. Major regional restoration efforts in Lake Champlain, Long Island Sound and Puget Sound also received an additional $1 million to $2 million in environmental management funding.
State and Tribal Assistance Grant programs would sustain the greatest budget cuts under the House bill. Overall, the account would receive $3.13 billion, a decrease of $448 million below the fiscal year 2005 level and $167 million above the budget request. Although FY 2005 funding was not restored for the Clean Water State Revolving Loan Fund, the committee recommended an increase of $120 million, $100 million of which would be rescinded from expired contracts, grants, and interagency agreements.
The committee also held Superfund and Brownfields accounts essentially flat from FY 2005 funding levels, removing increases proposed by the Administration for both programs. Under the House bill, the Superfund program would receive a minor $12 million increase, over $20 million below the requested amount. Brownfields would recieve nearly $40 million below the requested level, which represents a minor, $6 million increase over FY 2005.
The bill was considered within the Interior and Environment Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee: Chaired by Representative Taylor (R-NC) other members include Representatives Wamp(R-TN), Peterson (R-PA), Sherwood (R-PA), Istook (R-OK), Aderholt (R-AL), Doolittle (R-CA), Simpson (R-ID), Dicks (D-WA), Moran (D-VA), Hinchey (D-NY), Olver (D-MA) and Mollohan (D-WV).
On June 29, 2005 the Senate approved the $26.26 billion spending bill for the Department of the Interior, the Environmental Protection Agency, and related agencies, which include the Smithsonian Institution and the Forest Service. After extensive debate on pesticide testing and the construction of logging roads in the Tongass National Forest, the Senate passed the bill 94-0. In total, the Senate bill represents a $98 million increase over the spending bill passed by the House on May 19th. The EPA would receive a total of $7.882 billion, which would be $361.9 million above the President's request and $174.5 million above the House recommendation. This appropriation represents a 2% decrease below the FY 2005 budget.
The Committee recommended $730.8 million for science and technology which would be $29.8 million below the Administration's request and $13.3 million below FY 2005. An additional $30.6 million would be transferred from the Superfund account to the science and technology account to give a total budget of $761.4 million. The Committee did not allocate funding for the new Department of Homeland Security Safe Buildings initiative and recommended a $15.7 million decrease in the request for Homeland Security. Funding for research fellowships was increased by $3.7 million.
The Environmental Programs and Management account would receive $2.3 billion which is slightly below the President's request. Funds would be increased by $7 million for environmental education. $50.5 million would also be allocated for the Energy Star program to promote energy efficient appliances.
The Hazardous Substance Superfund would be boosted by $8.7 million above the FY 2005 enacted level which is $23 million below the President's request and $2.2 million below the House recommendation. The Committee expressed concern that the EPA has not yet issued a Record of Decision (ROD) for Libby, Montana asbestos clean-up efforts.
State and Tribal Assistance Grants would be allotted 44% of the entire EPA budget, representing an increase of $326.8 million over the House allowance and a 14% increase above the Administration's request. The recommendation for the Drinking Water State Revolving Loan equaled the President's request, while the request for the Clean Water State Revolving Loan would be raised $370 million. $7 million would also be allocated to a regional pilot program for non-point nutrient reduction in the Chesapeake Bay.
Total spending for the Brownfield programs would be $165 million
and a provision would be made to extend eligibility to Brownfield
sites that were purchased before the enactment of the Small Business
Liability Relief and Brownfield Revitalization Act of 2001.
The bill was considered within the Interior and Related Agencies Subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee: Chaired by Senator Conrad Burns (R-MT), other members include Senators Byron Dorgan (D-ND) (Ranking Member), Ted Stevens (R-AK), Thad Cochran (R-MS), Pete Dominici (R-NM), Robert Bennet (R-UT), Judd Gregg (R-NH), Larry Craig (R-ID), Wayne Allard (R-CO), Robert Byrd (D-WV), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Harry Reid (D-NV), Diane Feinstein (D-CA), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) and Herb Kohl (D-WI).
The Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill became law on August 2, 2005 (Public Law 109-54). The conference report, (108-188), which cleared both houses on August 26th, includes increases over the President's proposed budget for the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and several compromises between earlier versions of the bill passed in the House and Senate. The final bill also includes $1.5 billion in funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs to compensate for an FY 2005 funding shortfall within last year's omnibus appropriations bill. Due in part to an urgency to pass this Veterans Affairs spending, the Interior and Environment bill was only one of two appropriations bills that made it to the President before the month-long summer break. The act was overwhelmingly approved 410-10 in the House and 99-1 in the Senate, with Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) casting the single dissenting vote.
Spending for the Environmental Protection Agency is set at $7.73 billion for FY 2006, which is a cut of approximately $290 million from current levels, but an increase of roughly $169 million above than the president's request for the agency. Although the most major cut was taken from the Clean Water State Revolving Loan Fund, a popular wastewater infrastructure program that has now been cut by 33% since FY 2003, Congress added $284 million in earmarks to the bill for 336 projects, most of which address local waste water treatment infrastructure problems.
The following dollar amounts appropriated for each program (and those listed in the table above) do not include an additional 0.476% rescission that will be imposed across the board to relieve part of the federal deficit.
Science and Technology
Under the bill, the Science and Technology account will be funded at $741.7 million. This comes in $18.9 million below the President's request and $2.3 million below FY 2005 funding. Compared to the House recommendation of $765 million, the final bill includes decreases amounting to $3.2 million for air toxics and clean air research, a $1 million decrease for Climate Protection, a $4.8 million decrease for water quality programs, and $6.7 million worth of Congressional priorities. Climate Protection, however, will see an additional $500,000 under Environmental Programs and Management.
Environmental Programs and Management
Environmental Programs and Management will receive $2.4 billion, surpassing the budget request by $28 million and the FY 2005 level by $86 million. The final bill is approximately $8 million below the House bill and $50 million above the Senate bill. Major changes to the House bill include decreases of $5 million for the clean diesel initiative, $2,000,000 for the water quality monitoring program, and $3 million for compliance monitoring.
Total brownfields funding will be $165 million, equivalent to the Senate recommendation, and a slight increase over FY 2005 funding.
The Superfund account received a small boost over FY 2005 levels, including $1.26 billion for hazardous waste management. This is $13.1 million above FY 2005 enacted levels but falls below the budget request by $18.7 million. These funds include $849.7 million requested by the President for clean-up activities. For brownfields activities, the conferees chose to adopt the Senate recommendation of $165 million.
State and Tribal Assistance Grants
The State and Tribal Assistance Grants account will be funded at
$3.3 billion with an $80 million rescission for expired grants and
contracts and interagency agreements. This figure falls roughly $394
million below the current funding level and $220.8 million above the
President's request. Line items under this title include $900 million
for the Clean Water State Revolving Loan Fund and a flat $850 million
for the Drinking Water State Revolving Loan Fund. There was significant
argument over the Clean Water State Revolving Loan Fund, eventually
leading to a $190 million cut from FY 2005 levels. This is $170 million
above the request of the President, but amounts to a 33% reduction
in funding over the past three fiscal years.
Members of the Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee voiced their concerns to agency officials about various cuts in the Administration's FY 2006 budget proposal for the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Discussion focused on EPA's Superfund program, the 33% cut in federal seed money for the Clean Water State Revolving Loan Fund (CWSRF), and a number of federally-funded, regional environmental and coastal projects.
Grumbles emphasized the administration's priority of the National Water Program, which would receive 38% ($2.8 billion) of the Agency's budget, and would institute and enforce "watershed-based" and collaborative programs, such as the fully-funded Great Lakes Grant Program, to enforce the Clean Water Act. The $24 million increase to state management programs are confined to probabilistic monitoring of water quality. According to the Subcommittee's overview of the budget, probabilistic monitoring would better track changes in water quality over time but would be of little use to daily program management.
The Clean Water SRF, which gives states federal seed money with which they can lend to local infrastructure improvement projects, would see a $361 million decrease, with a plan to flat fund the program at $730 million through 2011. According to Grumbles, this funding level, along with the "four pillars of sustainable infrastructure," (better management, full-cost pricing, water conservation, and watershed-based restoration) is sufficient to reach a long-term revolving average of $3.4 billion a year, raised from a previous goal of $2 billion. But members of the subcommittee insisted funding would be insufficient to meet the immediate local water infrastructure needs and will force state and local governments to absorb the extra burden. As Rep. Brian Baird (D-WA) declared, "the fund is already oversubscribed," and "further cuts will only "deprive further communities."
Solid waste clean-up was another major issue for members of the subcommittee. The budget allocates $1.28 million to the Superfund program, a $30 million increase over FY05 enacted level, all to be derived from general tax payers into the Superfund Trust Fund. Several members questioned as to whether funds were sufficient without reinstating the "polluter pay" tax, which would cost the fund $1.3 billion this year, while subcommittee chairman John Duncan (R-TN) was wary that funds were "not for on-the-ground" activities. Thomas Dunne, testifying on behalf of EPA's Solid Waste and Emergency Response division, said he opposed the polluter pay tax.
Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) accused the Administration of under-funding the Brownfields Program while claiming funds are sufficient. When asked by Rep. Timothy Johnson (R-IL) how Brownfields funds are spent, Dunne testified that out of the $210.1 million allocated for FY05, $120 million will go to assessment and clean-up, $60 million to state and tribal programs to help local communities develop their own programs, and the remainder to fund contracts and employees.
Among NOAA programs considered under the subcommittee's jurisdiction, the National Ocean Service would recieve $414.73 for FY06, $254.57 million less than enacted in FY05. Included in this cut is the elimination of coastal nonpoint pollution programs which had been funded at just under $3 million, according to the subcommittee website. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson raised this issue in her opening statement, but throughout the hearing, few members posed questions to Richard Spinrad, assistand director of NOAA's National Ocean Service. In his own statements, Spinrad highlighted the agency's budget priorities, such as $17.6 million for response and restoration under Superfund and the Oil Pollution Act, and funding increases for activites related to controlling Algal Blooms, Hypoxia, and invasive species.
On February 9, 2005 the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee invited Stephen Johnson, Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Acting Administrator, to testify on the $450 million (5.6%) cut proposed for the agency's Fiscal Year (FY) 2006 budget. The cut would bring EPA's total budget to $7.57 billion, down from the $8.02 billion enacted by Congress last year.
Both majority and minority members challenged the proposed $361 million cut to the Clean Water State Revolving Loan Fund (CWSRF), which helps states improve waste water treatment infrastructure. In defense of the cut, Johnson said that the proposed funding levels are sufficient to meet a 2011 target of $6.8 billion.
Senators from both sides of the aisle applauded the $47 million increase for the Brownfields program, but several, particularly Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Hillary Clinton (D-NY), and James Jeffords (D-VT) expressed concern that Superfund funding remained insufficient, resulting in $750-1,000 million worth of unmet needs by the next fiscal year. Senators Clinton and Boxer also questioned Bush's decision not to reauthorize the "polluter pay" tax, a major contributor to Superfund that expired last year.
Democratic Senators also repeatedly invoked the EPA Inspector General report of February 3, 2005 and used it as a platform to demand greater credibility of Agency information and a strengthening of EPA emissions rules for coal-fired utilities, which are to be finalized mid-March pending the passage of Clear Skies legislation. Similarly, Republican supporters of the Clear Skies bill also used the forum to offer their support of the bill.
Sources: EPA website, hearing testimony, House Subcommittee on Water Quality and Environment Feb. 16 hearing charter, American Society of Civil Engineers website, Local Government Environmental Assistance Network website.
Please send any comments or requests for information to the AGI Government Affairs Program at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contributed by Emily Lehr Wallace, AGI Government Affairs Program; Katie Ackerly, AGI/AAPG 2005 Spring Intern; Anne Smart, AGI/AIPG 2005 Summer Intern.
Last Update August 15, 2005