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Speeches By EPA Administrator

 

FY 2000 Budget Announcement

02/01/1999
Carol M. Browner, Administrator
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Remarks Prepared for Delivery
FY 2000 Budget Announcement
Washington, DC                                                        
       
                          February 1, 1999

     I am delighted to be here today to present the President's FY 2000 budget for EPA -- a $7.2 billion request to protect public health and the environment and provide states and communities new, innovative funding tools to help build strong, healthy communities for the 21st Century.  

     And, in the tradition of every previous budget submitted by this Administration, it is based on what the President and Vice President have proven time and time again -- the environment and the economy go hand in hand. They are inextricably linked.

     Today, we have some of the toughest environmental and public health protections in the world, and our economy is not only strong, it is soaring. In 1992, this nation had a record high $290 billion deficit. This year, we expect a $76 billion budget surplus. That's progress.

     Building on this record of success, the Clinton-Gore 2000 budget charts a new course to meet the environmental challenges of the coming century. This budget recognizes that protecting our environment is about more than beautiful vistas and scenic rivers, and it's about more than passing new environmental and public health laws.

     This budget reflects a new American ideal. It's about neighborhoods, protecting where we live and how we live, and what we do in the everyday life. It's about communities -- and how we keep them healthy, strong, and prosperous. It's about improving the quality of our lives.

     Three new landmark initiatives in this budget reflect President Clinton's and Vice President Gore's commitment to America's communities. These initiatives provide significant new, innovative financial tools to give communities the flexibility they need to address their most pressing environmental and public health needs. They tap into our nation's greatest resources -- our ingenuity and spirit of collaboration. And they protect our most precious resource first -- our children.

     The first new initiative is the EPA Better America Bonds program -- the cornerstone of the President's and Vice President's creative initiative to build livable American communities. This bonds program is modeled on one of the greatest accomplishments of this administration's work with America's communities -- brownfields redevelopment. Without us writing any regulations -- EPA's brownfields program has provided vital resources for 227 communities to chart their own course toward revitalization.

     Better America Bonds follows in the tradition of EPA's brownfields redevelopment program by allowing communities across the country to set their own priorities, make their own decisions, improve their own quality of life and the way they are growing.

     The EPA Better America Bonds program will provide $9.5 billion in bonding authority through tax credit bonds that help communities preserve the green spaces -- the open spaces important to their quality of life. That's billions of new dollars for preserving open space, protecting drinking water quality, and redeveloping brownfields in our city centers. And all at a great deal -- a tax credit up to the amount of the interest payment and 15 years to pay back the bond.

     The second new initiative is $200 million for another significant innovative funding opportunity to work with communities -- the Clean Air Partnership Fund. This EPA program will provide new resources for states, cities, and tribes to reduce soot, smog, air toxics, and greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change. The money would go to new anti-pollution technologies. It would foster public-private partnerships that for locally-managed, self-supporting approaches that help communities achieve their clean air goals sooner than required.

     The third new initiative is the largest-ever federal investment -- $68 million -- for a administration-wide effort to address childhood asthma. Five million children suffer from this debilitating disease. Between 1980 and 1994, we've seen a 160 percent increase in asthma cases in children under age five. The President has said this is simply unacceptable.

     EPA is taking a leadership role in this initiative to fight childhood asthma, with $22 million to reduce children's exposure to asthma-causing toxic substances in our environment, as well as for education, outreach, and air monitoring activities.  An additional $12.3 million dollars focuses on other chronic childhood ailments, such as cancer and developmental disorders. Altogether, the President gives EPA $40 million to protect our children's health, our nation's future.

     In addition to these three new initiatives, the President's budget also continues our work on the nation's other environmental and public health priorities.

          Last year, the President announced a national blueprint to finish the job of cleaning up and restoring our nation's rivers, lakes, and coastal waters -- and we made great progress. The President's 2000 budget continues the strides we've made with $651 million to clean up watersheds across the country.

     Polluted runoff is one of the most serious problems facing communities, and the President is continuing another important flexible funding mechanism -- this one designed to help communities provide clean water. The President has included $800 million for the Clean Water State Revolving Loan Fund. This will allow us to meet his commitment of providing an average of $2 billion annually to help states and communities pay for wastewater treatment facilities and other water quality projects.

    And to provide even more community flexibility for clean water projects, states will have the option of setting aside 20 percent of their clean water revolving loan fund for grants that will fund projects combating polluted runoff and protecting coasts and estuaries. This is a great opportunity for communities, and I'm asking Congress to join us in providing states and tribes with this additional flexibility.

     Last year, the President announced a major initiative to fight one of the greatest environmental threats facing the nation -- climate change. This year, in addition to the Clean Air Partnership Fund, the President proposed $216 million to help consumers purchase energy-efficient products, a program for early, voluntary action to reduce greenhouse gases, and more money for energy efficiency and pollution prevention technologies.

     Our work to reduce air pollution continues with $18 million in new funding to reduce air toxics, which will especially benefit people who live and work in urban areas.

     This budget invests $1.5 billion to continue our progress cleaning up the nation's Superfund toxic waste sites.

     To help communities clean up their abandoned industrial properties and return them to productive use -- the President has committed $92 million to continue our successful brownfields redevelopment program. Thirty five million dollars will fund new, low-interest brownfields cleanup revolving loan funds around the country.

     We are continuing to meet the public's information needs with $13 million additional dollars in the Chemical-Right-to-Know program -- and funds for a new information office that will redesign our information system to meet the demands of the 21st Century.

     The Agency continues its commitment to tribal programs with $166 million -- new funding for program and technical assistance and projects to combat polluted runoff.

     A $50 million increase is provided for much-needed water and wastewater projects along our shared border with Mexico.

     We have been working hard to maintain a safe, affordable, and abundant food supply -- $14.5 million to fully implement the President Clinton's Food Quality Protection Act.

     And finally, President has proposed $681 million to develop state-of-the-art research techniques and methodology -- the best available science to address today's challenges.

     The President and Vice President understand that a strong and healthy America depends on strong and healthy communities. They are our building blocks that sustain the nation. And that is what this budget is all about -- building the communities of the future through this administration's time-tested approaches -- strong partnerships, tough standards, and innovative, common-sense, and cost-effective ways to ensure a strong economy and a healthy environment. It's a budget of the future, for the America of the future.