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EPA's FY 2017 Budget Request Increases Support for Communities to Deliver Core Environmental and Health Protection

Release Date: 02/09/2016
Contact Information: Robert Daguillard (News Media Only) daguillard.robert@epa.gov 202-564-6618; En español: Lina Younes younes.lina@epa.gov 202-564-9924

WASHINGTON – The Obama Administration’s Fiscal Year 2017 budget announced today for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) lays out a strategy to ensure that steady progress is made in addressing known environmental problems and ensuring the agency and its partners in environmental protection, states and tribes, are positioned to meet the challenges of the future. EPA’s FY 2017 budget request of $8.267 billion provides resources vital to that overarching vision. The request is $127 million above the agency’s enacted level for FY 2016.

“For 45 years, EPA’s investments to protect public health and the environment have consistently paid off,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “The proposed budget reflects an understanding that a strong economy depends on a healthy environment. The Administration is committed to continuing crucial work to curb climate change while improving air quality, protecting our water, conducting rigorous scientific research, maintaining an effective compliance and enforcement program, and making sure the public is safe from toxic chemicals.”

Fiscal Year 2017 Budget Highlights Include:

Making a Visible Difference in Communities Across the Country

Helping all communities connect with the information and resources they need to address local environmental concerns and issues remains a key element of EPA’s community-focused efforts. Coordination with other federal agencies, states, tribes, and stakeholders will help to focus the work of diverse programs at the community level. In response to feedback from across the country, this budget proposes a multifaceted effort to enable communities of all sizes, rural and urban, to find needed assistance and support for capacity building, planning, and implementation of environmental protection programs. For example, in addition to the $17 million provided for the Alaska Native Villages infrastructure assistance program, and an additional $2.9 million is provided to these communities to conduct resiliency planning exercises and capacity-building efforts. This will build upon previous collaborative efforts with FEMA, NOAA and HUD.

In addition to existing cross-program efforts, including Community Resource Coordinators, $2 million is requested for non-EPA Circuit Riders who will help communities across the Nation connect with information and environmental programs that address their local concerns. In order to help overburdened and vulnerable communities address local environmental and public health issues, $5 million dollars will be available to provide financial assistance to eligible organizations working on these issues. The budget includes $90 million in Brownfields Project grants to local communities, an increase of $10 million. These funds will help to return contaminated sites to productive reuse by increasing investment in technical assistance and community grants for assessment and cleanup. These efforts include helping communities adopt green infrastructure, providing technical assistance for building resilience and adapting to climate change, and helping communities to reduce environmental impacts through advanced monitoring technology and decision making tools.

Addressing Climate Change and Improving Air Quality

The FY 2017 budget prioritizes actions to reduce the impacts of climate change, one of the most significant challenges for this and future generations, and supports the President’s Climate Action Plan. EPA’s FY 2017 Budget includes $235 million for efforts to cut carbon pollution and other greenhouse gases through common sense standards, guidelines, and voluntary programs. EPA’s Clean Power Plan, which establishes carbon pollution reduction standards for existing power plants, is a top priority for the agency and will help spur innovation and economic growth while creating a clean energy economy. Implementing these plans will involve innovative approaches and flexibility for achieving solutions, as well as extensive and unprecedented work with states, tribes, and territories, which is why this budget includes an increase of $25 million in grants to help states implement their Clean Power Plan strategies.

As part of the President’s 21st Century Clean Transportation Plan, the President proposes to establish a new mandatory fund at EPA. The existing fleet of cars, trucks, and buses is aging, contributing to climate change and putting our children's health at risk. To protect the health of the most vulnerable populations and reduce childhood exposure to harmful exhaust, EPA will provide a total of $1.65 billion through the Fund over the course of 10 years to retrofit, replace, or repower diesel equipment. The proposed funding, which is separate from the Agency’s discretionary funding request, will provide up to $300 million in FY 2017 to renew and increase funding for the Diesel Emissions Reduction Grant Program, which is set to expire in 2016.

Working with the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, EPA will continue to address greenhouse gas and fuel efficiency standards for mobile sources. These standards will represent significant savings at the pump, reduce carbon pollution, and reduce fuel costs for businesses, which is anticipated to lower prices for consumers. An additional $1 million is included in the President’s request for this work. The budget also includes a $4.2M increase to enhance vehicle, engine and fuel compliance programs, including critical testing capabilities, to ensure compliance with emission standards.

Protecting the Nation’s Waters

Protecting America’s water resources is a critical part of EPA’s mission. In FY 2017, the agency will continue to build upon decades of work to ensure our waterways are clean and our drinking water is safe. There are far reaching effects when rivers, lakes, and oceans become polluted. Polluted waters can endanger wildlife, make our drinking water unsafe and threaten the waters where we swim and fish.

Building on the strong funding level of $2.0 billion provided through the Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Funds, $42 million is included for loan financing, technical assistance, training, and other efforts to enhance the capacity of communities and states to plan and finance drinking water and wastewater infrastructure improvements. Twenty million dollars and 12 staff will support the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) program. WIFIA will expand water and wastewater infrastructure work by making loans for large innovative projects of regional or national significance. The WIFIA program will also work to support investments in small communities and promote public-private collaboration. The $15 million increase in the budget is the beginning of funding for WIFIA projects and the program is designed to highly leverage these funds. The Budget also provides $7.1 million for the Water Infrastructure and Resiliency Finance Center to continue helping communities across the country focus on financial planning for future public infrastructure investments, expanding work with states to identify financing opportunities for rural communities, and enhancing partnership and collaboration with the U.S. Department of Agriculture on training, technical assistance, and funding opportunities in rural areas. The Center is part of the Build America investment initiative, a government-wide effort to increase infrastructure investment and promote economic growth by creating opportunities for state and local governments and the private sector to collaborate on infrastructure development.

Taking Steps to Improve Chemical Facility Safety

In support of the White House Executive Order on Improving Chemical Facility Safety and Security, EPA is requesting $23.7 million for the State and Local Prevention and Preparedness program, an increase of $8.4 million above the FY 2016 enacted level. This increase will allow EPA to continue to improve the safety and security of chemical facilities and reduce the risks of hazardous chemicals to facility workers and operators, communities, and responders. These efforts represent a shared commitment among those with a stake in chemical facility safety and security: facility owners and operators; federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial governments; regional entities; nonprofit organizations; facility workers; first responders; environmental justice and local environmental organizations; and communities. In FY 2017, EPA will develop, initiate and deliver training to aid with expansive outreach and planning for local communities, emergency planners, and responders. This will assist local emergency planners and first responders in using the risk information available to them, educating the public about what to do if an accident occurs; and working effectively with facilities to reduce the risks associated with the chemicals that are stored, used, or produced on site.

Protecting Our Land

EPA strives to protect and restore land to create a safer environment for all Americans by cleaning up hazardous and non-hazardous wastes that can migrate to air, groundwater and surface water, contaminating drinking water supplies, causing acute illnesses and chronic diseases, and threatening healthy ecosystems. We preserve, restore, and protect our land, for both current and future generations by cleaning up contaminated sites and returning them to communities for reuse. Our funds will assist communities in using existing infrastructure and planning for more efficient and livable communities, and encouraging the minimization of environmental impacts throughout the full life cycle of materials.

In FY 2017, we will increase the Superfund Remedial program by $20 million to accelerate the pace of cleanups and fund additional construction projects, supporting states, local communities, and tribes in their efforts to assess and cleanup sites and return them to productive reuse, and encourage renewable energy development on formerly hazardous sites when appropriate. We also will expand the successful Brownfields program, providing grants, and supporting area-wide planning and technical assistance to maximize the benefits to the communities. In FY 2017, EPA is investing $90 million in funding for Brownfields Project grants to local communities, increasing the number of grants for assessment and cleanup of contaminated sites. The investment in Brownfields builds on the program’s successful community-driven approach to revitalizing contaminated land and further supports the agency’s efforts to make a visible difference in communities.

Ensuring the Safety of Chemicals and Preventing Pollution

EPA’s chemical safety programs are integral to efforts to advance a sustainable future. In FY 2017, we are requesting a total of $679.6 million, an increase of $56.4 million over the FY 2016 Enacted Budget. EPA will work to expand the usage of computational tools, and increase and enhance the quality, accessibility, and usefulness of information about commercial chemicals and pesticides, thereby strengthening the capability of EPA, other regulators, and the public to assess chemical hazards and potential exposures, identify potential risks to human health and the environment and take appropriate risk management action. EPA will work aggressively to complete additional risk assessments from the TSCA Work Plan list of existing chemicals and meet its requirement to review all current pesticide registrations by 2022.

In FY 2017, $5.9 million is requested to increase support for accelerated risk reduction work on TSCA Work Plan Chemicals where completed assessments have identified risks. The request supports efforts to address formaldehyde in pressed wood products and public concerns associated with the presence of PCBs in building materials in schools. In FY 2017, EPA’s Office of Pesticide Programs will continue the important work initiated by the Presidential Memorandum Creating a Federal Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators to reverse pollinator losses and help restore populations to healthy levels. EPA is committing $500,000 in funding to states to draft pollinator protection plans.

Continuing EPA’s Commitment to Innovative Research & Development

Environmental issues in the 21st century are complex because of the interplay between air quality, climate change, water quality, healthy communities, and chemical safety. They require different thinking and solutions than those used in the past. In FY 2017, we will continue to strengthen the agency’s ability to develop solutions by providing $512 million to evaluate and predict potential environmental and human health impacts for decision makers at all levels of government. Activities in the FY 2017 Budget include providing support tools for community health, investigating the unique properties of emerging materials, such as nanomaterials, and research to support the nation’s range of growing water-use and ecological requirements.

Supporting State and Tribal Partners

Effective environmental protection is a joint effort of EPA, states and our tribal partners. In FY 2017, we are requesting an increase of $77 million in funding for State and Tribal Assistance categorical grants – for a total of $3.28 billion. Recognizing the value of aligning and leveraging our efforts, we are pursuing opportunities for closer collaboration with states and tribes, including targeted joint planning and governance processes. One example is our commitment to work collaboratively to streamline, reform, and integrate our shared business processes and related systems through the E-Enterprise approach. Joint State-EPA-Tribal governance serves to organize the E-Enterprise partnership and elevate its visibility, boost coordination capacity, and ensure the inclusiveness and effectiveness of shared process and management improvements. This has been successful and will continue to yield the benefits of increased transparency, efficiency, and burden reduction for communities, businesses, and government agencies.

Maintaining a Forward-Looking and Adaptive EPA

EPA has strategically evaluated its workforce and facility needs over the last several years. We will continue the comprehensive effort to optimize and update our physical footprint in FY 2017 and prioritize efforts to save taxpayer dollars through space optimization and essential renovations. These efforts will include important laboratory buildings across the country but without sacrificing high quality of research. Since FY 2012, EPA has released over 250 thousand square feet of office space nationwide, resulting in a cumulative annual rent avoidance of nearly $9.2 million across all appropriations. Additional planned consolidations and moves could release another 336 thousand square feet of office space. The agency will continue on-going work to improve processes and advance the E-Enterprise effort. The goals are leveraging technology, streamlining workflow, and improving data quality, and increasing data sharing and transparency. The agency also is making necessary investments to improve internal IT services to support productivity and address the issue of cybersecurity

Reducing and Eliminating Programs

EPA continues to examine its programs to find those that have served their purpose and accomplished their mission. The FY 2017 President’s Budget also eliminates a number of programs totaling $85 million. Details are found in the EPA FY 2017 Congressional Justification.

For more information on EPA’s FY 2017 proposed budget, please visit:
http://www.epa.gov/planandbudget/fy2017