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Speeches By EPA Administrator

 

Administrator Lisa P. Jackson, Remarks on the President's Budget Proposal, As Prepared

02/14/2011
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As prepared for delivery.

President Obama, like everyone at EPA and like millions of families across the country, understands and believes in the great value in protecting the air we breathe, the water we drink and the lands where we build homes and schools and businesses. In the State of the Union – as he laid out a plan to win the future – he made clear that we “will not hesitate to create or enforce common-sense safeguards to protect the American people,” and explained that these safeguards are “why our food is safe to eat, our water is safe to drink, and our air is safe to breathe.”

These are the services EPA provides. They prevent thousands of illnesses from asthma, cancer and other diseases. They help keep students and workers healthy so they can be more productive. And they save lives. Last year the Clean Air Act alone is estimated to have saved 160,000 lives and prevented more than 100,000 hospital visits.

President Obama also understands, however, that as millions of families are cutting back and making sacrifices, they expect the same level of good fiscal sense out of their government. This budget reflects that good fiscal sense, and makes many tough choices. FY 2010’s budget of $10.3 billion was EPA’s highest funding level since its creation. This FY 2012 budget request, while a deep cut resulting in a total budget of $8.973 billion, will allow EPA to carry out its core mission and fund the most critical efforts to protect the health of American families.

EPA’s FY 2012 budget includes more than $1.4 billion in reductions. These include reducing the State Revolving Funds by $950 million, which though it reflects a considerable cut, ensures a sustainable level of support for programs that have received historical levels of funding in recent years. One of the painful choices included in this budget is a $125 million reduction in funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. We have built incredible partnerships in our work over the last two years, and we remain very optimistic about the restoration of this environmentally and economically important region over time. We have also slashed earmarks and other congressionally directed projects by nearly $270 million.

We will not be dedicating any new funding to Diesel Emissions Reduction Act grants in FY 2012, a $60 million dollar program. The program will continue to support on-going projects, adding to the tremendous public health benefits of cleaner air, particularly in our cities and around our ports and transportation hubs. We made the difficult decision to reduce funding to our Superfund Program by $38 million which impacts the long-term pace for cleaning up contaminated land. A nearly $6 million reduction to Superfund Federal Facilities resources means less EPA oversight on environmental restoration work at federal facilities. We expect this cut to impact continued progress at 106 Federal Facility National Priority List sites. Across several projects, the Agency's homeland security budget will be reduced by $50 million. This number reflects the completion of some projects, but it also includes reductions in New Methods Development research and Emergency Preparedness Enhancements.

We are also cutting nearly $9 million from voluntary programs through the Office of Radiation and Indoor Air, as well as $2.4 million from Pollution Prevention programs like Design for the Environment, Green Chemistry, and Environmentally Preferable Purchasing programs. In many cases, the hard work of EPA over the years has sparked private sector movement on these health protection efforts. Consumers and companies are doing more than ever before to ensure energy efficiency and chemical awareness in products on the market. While there is much more than can and should be done with these programs, we know that today’s fiscal realities and the work that our partner companies are doing made this a reasonable area for savings.

Along with those cuts, this budget maintains crucial funding to support our partnership for states and tribes, through an increase of $85 million to State and Tribal Assistance Grants. This is funding that – among other things – will support expanded state workloads for upgraded air protections, help prevent children’s exposure to lead, and ensure that pesticide safeguards and standards set at the national level are effectively translated into results at the local level.

To improve our effectiveness and efficiency in making sure big polluters follow the law, we will begin to modify our enforcement and compliance approach by investing in new technologies to improve collection, reporting, and usability of data. EPA will also begin to step up the frequency of inspections at high-risk oil and chemical facilities, taking the cost-effective step of preventing spills and other pollution before it harms health and the environment. The budget includes $30.5 million in additional funds for these two efforts.

To continue progress in ensuring the safety of chemicals in our products, our environment and our bodies, EPA is improving how it looks at chemicals in the environment and the marketplace. We will work with all available tools, regulatory and non-regulatory, to increase our knowledge and assess the risks of these chemicals. We have proposed an investment of $16 million for this effort. We will continue to follow the Clean Air Act in the area of addressing greenhouse gas pollution. This budget maintains funding at $20 million for the Greenhouse Gas Reporting Rules to support the collection, review and use of greenhouse gas pollution data.

The budget also allows EPA to continue to protect American families’ health by investing in a sector-based approach to addressing pollution sources and providing for testing of new engine types. These efforts will help cut mercury, carbon dioxide, arsenic and other life-threatening pollution in the air we breathe, reducing exposures that could lead to asthma and lung disease, especially in children. We remain committed to restoring the health of the Chesapeake Bay by working closely with our state, local and nongovernmental partners and holding them accountable to restore this national treasure In FY 2012, the budget contains a $17.4 million increase in funding to support Bay watershed States as they implement the unprecedented effort to restore this ecologically and economically valuable waterbody.

Because science is – and will continue to be – the backbone of our work at EPA, we are restructuring our research program to be more integrated and cross-disciplinary than ever before, a step that will allow for a more efficient and effective scientific operation.

The cuts we made were difficult decisions for everyone at EPA, especially when we are keenly aware of how much more work there is to do – all across America – to protect our health and the environment. EPA, like so many American families, is making reasonable cuts in our budget. With the value those same families place on clean air and clean water, we know that we must be able to meet our fundamental responsibilities. The President has presented Congress with a responsible budget – one that maintains our core mission of protecting the health of American families, and ensures that we are making the cuts needed to assure fiscal strength. He has made sure that EPA can continue to safeguard the air we breathe, the water we drink and the places where we build our homes, and that the American people will continue to get the protections they deserve.

Thank you very much.