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Speeches By EPA Administrator

 

As Prepared for Administrator Johnson, EPA FY 2009 Budget Press Conference, Washington, D.C.

02/04/2008
Thank you for joining us.

Earlier today President Bush submitted to Congress his proposed fiscal year 2009 budget. This marks the 8th and final budget introduced by the President during his tenure. And as the Bush Administration sprints to the finish line, I believe this budget will keep EPA on course for a cleaner tomorrow.

Over the past seven years, our nation’s environment has made great strides. And today provides us an opportunity to look back on that progress. Our air is cleaner, our water is purer, and our land is healthier than just a generation ago.

At EPA, we are proud of these achievements and we appreciate the President’s $7.14 billion budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2009. With this budget proposal, EPA will stay on course to deliver a healthier, cleaner environment.

This request for Fiscal Year 2009 supports the environmental commitments both the President and I have made. Specifically, it meets the four priorities of my administration – advancing clean energy, improving our water infrastructure, strengthening our homeland security, and building a stronger EPA.

Bottom line - this budget represents good government. It helps EPA meet our environmental goals, while being responsible stewards of taxpayers’ dollars.

So, for the next few minutes I’d like to provide an overview of how the President’s $7.14 billion budget proposal will help EPA keep pace with the environmental challenges of tomorrow.

One important challenge that continues to gain steam is in the arena of clean and affordable energy. Our economy grows and so do our energy needs. With both demand and cost on the rise, innovators are moving forward to advance the clean power solutions that are good for our environment and good for our energy security. At the same time, industry is searching for new domestic energy supplies to help the nation reduce its dependency on foreign oil. In doing so, we estimate the exploration of up to 75,000 new oil and gas wells on tribal and federal lands … as well as the renewal of permits for over 100 nuclear power plants and 40 liquefied natural gas terminals.

As always, EPA and our state and tribal partners will ensure that each of these projects moves forward in the most environmentally responsible manner possible – with the proper permitting and review, and in full compliance with the law. In order to meet our commitments, the President has requested $14 million to hire additional technical experts and provide grants to our partners to increase their capacity to review and assess proposed projects.

In addition, this federal budget contains sufficient funding to meet our commitment to addressing the serious challenge of global climate change.

Also, in order to encourage advances in efficient technologies, the President has proposed $49 million to promote clean diesel fuels, engines and strategies. This includes $15 million to reduce emissions in our nation’s ports through the Sustainable Ports initiative. As I’ve seen first-hand at the Port of Los Angeles and the Port of New York/New Jersey, the promotion of revolutionary shipping technology is helping America’s ports become harbors of cleaner air.

With the volume of imports increasing by double-digit percentages each year, the need to understand the potential environmental and health impacts of the movement of goods increases as well. As such, the President supports the creation of an International Trade Data System in order to track imported goods. EPA’s $3 million portion of this investment, included in the President’s budget, will help us begin building the capability to identify potential environmental impacts of our imports.

As I’ve said, the President’s budget will help EPA keep pace with the environmental challenges of tomorrow. And one of our most critical challenges is to improve our nation’s drinking water and waste water infrastructure. Although most of it is buried underground, our nation’s aging water infrastructure cannot be left ‘out of sight and out of mind.’ Through the President’s budget, EPA is bringing solutions to the surface by helping spur investments in clean, safe water.

We propose an increase of $13 million to fund Drinking Water State Revolving Fund grants at $842 million in FY 2009. This will meet the President’s commitment to achieve a $1.2 billion revolving level by 2018.

For Clean Water State Revolving Funds, we propose an investment of $555 million in FY 2009. This investment will enable the program will meet its long-term revolving target of $3.4 billion by 2015. The program is able to meet these goals with a reduced budget request due to higher than anticipated levels in enacted prior year budgets.

In addition, we propose other to create other financing options and continue our collaborative water programs. Once again, we propose to create Water Enterprise Bonds as innovative financing tools for our state and local partners to cost-effectively provide for their resident’s water needs. And as we address our aging clean water infrastructure, the budget continues to support EPA’s collaborative work to protect America’s national estuaries and water resources.

And while the President’s budget keeps EPA on course to be the guardian of our environment, it also fulfills our role as a guardian of our homeland. I am proud of EPA’s response to hurricanes Katrina and Rita, as well as to a number of other natural events. However, we recognize the need to expand our capabilities in order to respond to multiple, simultaneous catastrophic events – which could be the case during a terrorist attack. So in this budget, the President requested an extra $32 million – for a total investment of $170 million – to train an additional 700 staff volunteers, increase decontamination capabilities, and fully fund five Water Infrastructure Security pilots. This additional funding includes a $5 million increase to fund our bio-defense research, which will help us evaluate and understand the effect of potential terrorist attacks on the environment.

In order to keep pace with the challenges of tomorrow, we have a responsibility to advance the state of our science. As a scientist myself, I am intrigued by a relatively new area of scientific inquiry – nanotechnology. With manufacturers using an increasing amount of nano-materials in a wide array of products, EPA must better understand the potential environmental and public health impacts of these materials. Today, the President requested $15 million to help EPA investigate the processes which govern the fate of nano-materials and identify data needed for nano-material risk assessment.

Advancing our scientific knowledge is not only vital for the health of our environment, it is vital for the health of EPA. As a 27-year Agency employee, one of my most solemn responsibilities is to leave behind an EPA that is stronger than when any of us came to it. I’m pleased this budget meets that priority by improving our performance measures, strengthening our science capabilities, and sharpening our well-trained and talented workforce. It also focuses on something we can all take pride in – delivering results.

This budget builds on the results we’ve seen in our Brownfields program, which is putting both people and property back to work across the country. Through this program alone, we’ve leveraged more than $10.3 billion in public and private investment, assessed the renovation of 11,500 properties and helped create leverage for more than 47,000 jobs since 1995.

This budget also builds on the successes we’ve seen through our voluntary partnership programs, which find “win-win” solutions that make sense for the environment and for people’s wallets. Take ENERGY STAR for example. This budget provides the program $44 million to continue helping businesses and individuals make smart energy decisions.

But we also recognize reality; cooperative initiatives alone cannot be the answer. Once again, this budget proposes the highest enforcement budget ever – $563 million – which is an increase of $13 million over last year’s request. While this is a record-setting request by the President, we at EPA don’t see enforcement as a net cost to the government. Due to our millions of dollars in investments, every year EPA’s enforcement actions deliver billions of dollars in settlements and agreements to cleanup and prevent pollution.

As President Bush sprints to the finish line, so do I … and so do many of us standing before you today. And as we work to fulfill our responsibilities by the American people, I’m pleased this budget not only continues to deliver environmental results today, it keeps EPA on course to deliver a cleaner, healthier tomorrow.

Thank you, and I’d be happy to answer your questions.