Monday, February 14, 2011

President: Budget Cuts "Can't Sacrifice Our Future In The Process"

Feb 14: President Obama announced the release of his FY 2012 budget proposal at the Parkville Middle School and Center for Technology in Baltimore, Maryland.
    He said, ". . .when I was sworn in as President, I pledged to cut the deficit in half by the end of my first term. The budget I'm proposing today meets that pledge -- and puts us on a path to pay for what we spend by the middle of the decade. We do this in part by eliminating waste and cutting whatever spending we can do without. . . I've called for a freeze on annual domestic spending over the next five years. This freeze would cut the deficit by more than $400 billion over the next decade, bringing this kind of spending -- domestic discretionary spending -- to its lowest share of our economy since Dwight Eisenhower was President. . .
    "And when it comes to programs we do need, we're making them work better by demanding accountability.  Instead of spending first, and asking questions later, we're rewarding folks inside and outside government who deliver results.  And to make sure that special interests aren't larding up legislation with pet projects, I've pledged to veto any bill that contains earmarks. Still, even as we cut waste and inefficiency, this budget freeze will require some tough choices.  It will mean cutting things that I care deeply about. . . So what we've done here is make a down payment, but there's going to be more work that needs to be done, and it's going to require Democrats and Republicans coming together to make it happen.

    "We've begun to do some of this with $78 billion in cuts in the Defense Department's budget plan, by ending tax breaks for oil and gas companies, and through billions of dollars in savings from wasteful health spending -– savings we'll use to make sure doctors don't see their reimbursements slashed and that they stay in the system seeing patients. But here's the thing.  While it's absolutely essential to live within our means, while we are absolutely committed to working with Democrats and Republicans to find further savings and to look at the whole range of budget issues, we can't sacrifice our future in the process. Even as we cut out things that we can afford to do without, we have a responsibility to invest in those areas that will have the biggest impact in our future -– and that's especially true when it comes to education. . ."   

    Based on information released by House Republicans on Friday regarding their proposal for the FY 2011 Continuing Resolution and their complete opposition to the FY 2012 budget proposal [See related articles below which you can read by clicking o the link below] it remains to be seen how these major differences between the parties can be resolved.
    According to a fact sheet on the U.S. EPA FY 2012 budget it will include $9 billion -- a decrease of $1.3 billion. The White House indicates that funding is maintained for core priorities, such as enforcement of environment and public health protections. As part of a government-wide effort to reduce spending, savings are achieved through reductions in funding for the State Revolving Funds, the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, and water infrastructure earmarks. Highlights released indicate the proposed EPA budget:
  • Supports the 2012 implementation of a historic national program to improve fuel economy and reduce greenhouse gases (GHGs) from cars and trucks by about 21 percent by 2030, saving an estimated 1.8 billion barrels of oil.
  • Supports restoration of the Gulf Coast ecosystem following the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill.  The Administration is working with the Gulf States to restore the area's natural resources to pre-spill conditions.  A portion of civil penalties obtained from parties responsible for the oil spill, if approved by Congress to be dedicated to the Gulf Coast restoration, will be an important resource for funding additional critical ecosystem activities.
  • Supports restoration of the Chesapeake Bay with an investment of $67 million to support implementation of the Chesapeake Bay Executive Order and help Bay watershed States reduce nutrient and sediment pollution and restore this economically important ecosystem. 
  • Provides $350 million for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, a $125 million reduction from 2010, but a level that allows for continued ecosystem restoration efforts.
  • Stimulates economic growth in areas stymied by Brownfields with $125.4 million for technical assistance and integration of sustainable community development with environmental remediation activities. 
  • Eliminates about $160 million in water infrastructure earmarks.
  • Reduces funding for State Revolving Funds by $947 million, consistent with the long-term SRF goal of implementing a Sustainable Water Infrastructure Policy that focuses on working with states and communities to enhance technical, managerial, and financial capacity.  Important to the technical capacity will be enhancing alternatives analysis to expand "green infrastructure" options and their multiple benefits.  Future year budgets gradually adjust, taking into account repayments through 2016 with the goal of providing, on average, about 5 percent of water infrastructure spending annually.  When coupled with increasing repayments from loans made in past years by states the annual funding will allow the SRFs to finance a significant percentage in clean water and drinking water infrastructure.  Federal dollars provided through the SRFs will act as a catalyst for efficient system-wide planning and ongoing management of sustainable water infrastructure.  Overall, the Administration requests a combined $2.5 billion for the SRFs. 
  • Using $621 million in funds, the budget provides additional funding that strengthens enforcement and compliance efforts by targeting activities more effectively and enhancing monitoring and electronic reporting capabilities.
  • Ensures clean air and water for American families and enables States and Tribes to implement their environmental programs with $1.2 billion in funding, an increase of $85 million.
  • Promotes chemical safety by increasing the Agency's pace in developing hazard assessments for highly produced industrial chemicals, and improving information management and transparency.
  • Improves air quality in America's communities by establishing, updating, and implementing risk-based standards for air toxics.
  • Increases the number and frequency of inspections at oil and chemical facilities with an increase of $4.5 million for the Oil Spill Prevention, Preparedness, and Response program and $1.3 million for the State and Local Prevention and Preparedness program
  • Increases funding for the Office of Children's Health Protection by $3.7 million to ensure that children's environmental health impacts are carefully considered in EPA program implementation, science policy, and regulatory development.
    For the Department of Energy, the President's 2012 Budget provides $29.5 billion for DOE to support this mission, a 12 percent increase over the 2010 level. While funding has been increased in these critical areas, the Administration is also committed to putting the nation on a sustainable fiscal path and has identified areas for savings, such as inefficient fossil energy programs where industry has the resources to move forward without Federal assistance. As promised in his SOTU message, the budget eliminates what the White House says are "inefficient fossil fuel subsidies that impede investment in clean energy sources and undermine efforts to address the threat of climate change. These terminations free up resources to invest in clean energy development and production, which is critical to the Nation's long-term economic growth and competitiveness."  

    Access the President's speech (click here). Access a release from EPA on the budget (click here). Access the 6-page summary of details for EPA (click here). Access the detailed 128-page budget summary for EPA (click here). Access a release from DOE on the budget (click here). Access links to more EPA FY12 budget documents (click here). Access a fact sheet for each department (click here). Access a fact sheet on Creating the Clean Energy of Tomorrow and Protecting the Environment and Natural Resources (click here). Access links to the complete Federal budget and related details on Terminations, Reductions, and Savings; Analytical Perspectives; Historical Tables; Supplemental Materials; Appendix; and more related information (click here).

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