EPA, Interior face budget cuts as proposals move out of committee

The Environmental Protection Agency stands to lose significant funding for fiscal 2012 under a budget bill released by the House Appropriations Committee July 6.

The Environmental Protection Agency stands to lose significant funding for fiscal 2012 under the Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Appropriations bill released by the House Appropriations Committee late last week.

In addition to EPA, the legislation covers funding for the Interior Department, the U.S. Forest Service, and various independent and related agencies. Overall, EPA's budget could be slashed by 18 percent and Interior's by nearly 8 percent.

Under the proposed legislation, EPA would get $7.1 billion, which is 18 percent below last year’s funding level and 20 percent — or $1.5 billion — below President Barack Obama’s request. The bill also caps EPA’s personnel at last year’s level, which is the lowest since 1992.

Interior would be funded at $9.9 billion, which is $720 million below last year’s level and $1.2 billion below the president’s request.

“The EPA has been funded at unparalleled high levels over the past several years, leading to wasteful and unnecessary spending within the agency, as well as contributing to the agency’s regulatory over-reach, which has a detrimental effect on American businesses and the recovering economy,” wrote committee members in a statement.


Related coverage:

NASA, DOJ take hits in fiscal 2012 budget package


However, the leader of the nation’s largest independent union of federal employees said the proposed budget for EPA would imperil services that the American people depend on to keep them safe.

“Reducing EPA’s budget by this magnitude and capping its personnel will have a devastating effect on the services EPA provides to the nation,” wrote Colleen Kelley, president of the National Treasury Employees Union, in a July 6 letter to the Appropriations Committee’s Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Subcommittee.

“The EPA works on a daily basis to help ensure that all Americans are protected from significant risks to human health and the environment where they live and work,” Kelley wrote.

EPA’s laboratories perform essential work assessing environmental conditions and identifying, understanding, and solving current and future environmental problems, she added.

Moreover, the agency integrates the work of scientific partners and provides leadership in addressing emerging environmental issues and advancing the science and technology of risk assessment and risk management, she wrote.

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