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EPA programs fare well in new budget plan.

In a major departure from previous efforts by both the Bush and Reagan administrations to phase-out and eliminate funding for construction of municipal wastewater treatment facilities, President Bush is proposing $2.5 billion for fiscal 1993 -- more than double the amount authorized ($1.2 billion) for the State Revolving Loan Fund and a modest increase over the $2.4 billion appropriated by Congress for the current fiscal year.

Funding for construction of federally mandated sewage treatment plants for municipal wastewater has been, and continues to be, the only funding of any significance for cities and towns in the Environmental Protection Agency's budget.

Overall, funding for Environmental Protection Agency programs has fared well in the proposed fiscal 1993 budget--attributable to the president's commitment to the environment. In addition to the proposal to increase funding for municipal construction of secondary treatment plants, most EPA programs of interest to cities and towns--Superfund, drinking water, clean air--are slated for at least modest increases over current funding levels.

Regulatory Moratorium

A more discordant note, although not entirely unexpected, is the impact of the president's commitment last week in his State of the Union message to impose a 90-day moratorium on new federal regulations. Henry Habicht, Deputy Administrator for EPA indicated at the agency's budget briefing that "no EPA regulations required by law would be included in the moratorium." Since EPA issues relatively few regulations that are not based on statutory requirements, it is expected that there will be no moratorium on any environmental regulations.

Program Elimination

Among EPA programs slated for elimination, only the River Rouge stormwater management project and continued federal participation in asbestos removal from schools are included on the list. Both proposed program cuts negate the president's call for no unfunded mandates.

The administration opposes the River Rouge stormwater program as setting "a bad precedent" for making federal funding available for financing stormwater management programs since "municipalities across the country are assuming responsibility for stormwater control, paid for by local water utility fees."

No funding is requested for school asbestos removal because "additional funding would largely go either to state and local agencies that are capable financially of addressing the remaining problem themselves or to low priority projects that do not represent a significant environmental threat." "The financial responsibility for asbestos abatement now rests with States and localities," the administration said.

Clean Water

The administration's proposed $2.5 billion for construction of municipal wastewater treatment facilities includes $2.1 billion for the State Revolving Loan Fund (SFR) and a repeat of last year's $340 million in 55 percent matching grants for six coastal cities--Boston ($100 million), New York ($70 million), Baltimore ($40 million), Seattle ($35 million), Los Angeles ($55 million) and San Diego ($40 million)--to continue or complete work on their respective sewage treatment plants.

Despite the shift in position by the administration to support an increase in funding for the construction of municipal sewage treatment plants, EPA's most recent needs survey indicates the nation's cities and towns will need over $83 billion to meet the federal mandate for secondary treatment of municipal wastewater. In addition, the proposed funds are, for the most part, grants to states which then make repayable loans to local governments required to construct these federally mandated facilities. The funds are unavailable for other Clean Water Act mandates such as separation of combined sewers or implementation of stormwater management programs.

The president is again proposing to turn the entire package of funding for the municipal wastewater treatment plant construction program back to the states as part of a comprehensive block grant proposal similar to one he offered last year.

Drinking Water

A modest increase of $5.4 million, for a total of $146.7 million, for implementation of the Safe Drinking Water Act is also proposed for fiscal 1993. Emphasis would be placed on developing new drinking water standards for toxic contaminants including inorganic and synthetic chemicals, radionuclides and arsenic. Also part of the president's safe drinking water initiative will be the development and dissemination of information to state and local program officials on new regulations and improvements in compliance.


The President also proposes to continue and enhance funding for his comprehensive wetlands protection and restoration plan by proposing funding totaling $800 million across various agencies. EPA is slated to receive $32 million, an increase of $4 million, for programs to implement new standards for protection, expand outreach and education programs to the agricultural community, and increase support to states.

EPA will target wetlands research resources on "quantifying wetlands water quality functions, assessing the impact of cumulative wetland losses on water quality, and evaluating constructed wetlands both for use as a viable wastewater treatment alternative and as a way of mitigating wetlands loss and degradation."

The budget proposal also include $50 million "to fully fund the Wetlands Protection and Restoration Programs managed by the Department of the Interior and the Army Corps of Engineers for the conservation and restoration of coastal wetlands."

Clean Air

The "major investment for 1993" in implementing the 1990 Clean Air Act amendments will be support for development of State Implementation Plans (SIPs) which detail state-by-state plans for achieving National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for ozone, carbon monoxide, sulphur dioxide and particulate matter.

Increases for state grants are proposed to total $174.5 million, up from the current funding level of $164.8 million. An additional $57.6 million is being requested to help states improve their vehicle maintenance and inspection programs to insure reductions in emissions from mobile-sources.

Other programs included in the president's $552 million Clean Air Act budget (an increase of $34.9 million over 1992 levels) for fiscal 1993 include implementation of new acid rain reduction provisions as well as reductions in air toxics.

Solid Waste

As in previous years, no funding is available for municipal solid waste disposal programs from the federal government. An administration legislative initiative to reauthorize the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, the nation's cradle-to-grave solid and hazardous waste management law, is not anticipated.


As stated in EPA's Summary of the 1993 Budget," "[f]or the fourth year in a row, the Administration is requesting a substantial increase in Superfund. Congress has consistently reduced the Superfund budget, decreasing program funding from requested levels by $467 million in the past three years."

The President is again requesting $1.75 billion for clean-up of the nation's worst hazardous waste sites, an increase of $133.8 million over current levels. The administration plans to focus on completion of clean-ups and will also continue its policy of "enforcement first"--identifying and compelling potentially responsible parties (PRPs) to implement or finance clean-up of the sites on the National Priorities List (NPL).

Federal Facilities

As was the case in fiscal 1992, the administration again plans to put major emphasis on clean up of federal facilities by increasing spending by $3.15 billion. Clean-up of hazardous sites at federal facilities targets those belonging to the Department of Energy ($5.317 billion, up 24 percent); Department of Defense ($3.7 billion, up 35 percent); Department of Interior ($80 million, up 14 percent); Department of Agriculture ($39 million, up 3 percent); Department of Commerce ($2 million); Department of Transportation ($59 million, up 9 percent); NASA ($40 million, up 11 percent); and Department of Justice [primarily prisons] ($16 million).


Level funding of $75 million is requested from the Leaking Underground Storage Tank (LUST) Trust Fund for activities to clean up releases from leaking underground tanks containing petroleum or other hazardous substances. The trust fund revenues are available for removal of abandoned leaking tanks and associated clean-up and is financed by a one cent per gallon tax on motor fuels.

$64.8 million of the amount requested will go to states.
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Title Annotation:Environmental Protection Agency
Author:Kocheisen, Carol
Publication:Nation's Cities Weekly
Date:Feb 3, 1992
Previous Article:Funds pumped into war on crime include new program.
Next Article:'Regulatory budget' leaves unanswered questions.

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