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E-M:/ PIRGIM: 2005 Federal Budget Slashes Important Programs



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Enviro-Mich message from mowens@pirgim.org
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For Immediate Release:			For More Information:
Tuesday, February 3, 2004		Anna Aurilio, (202) 546-9707
					Megan Owens, (734) 730-5725

  2005 BUDGET SLASHES ENVIRONMENTAL AND STUDENT AID PROGRAMS
      PIRGIM Analysis of the President’s Budget Request

The President’s fiscal year 2005 budget slashes environment and
student aid programs, according to a PIRGIM analysis of the proposal
released today.  

“We are outraged that the President’s 2005 budget request rewards the
nuclear, coal and timber industries at the expense of clean renewable
energy and wildlife habitat protection,” said PIRGIM Field Director
Megan Owens.  “Furthermore, while the Administration has proposed
increasing the budget for toxic waste site cleanup, it guarantees a
shortfall in the future by giving polluters a $1 billion annual tax
holiday, and slashing environmental enforcement.” 

PIRGIM focused on the environmental protection, energy, education and
social justice aspects in the President’s budget:

ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION

Environmental Enforcement: 
The Bush Administration has been consistent in seeking to reduce
funding for the EPA in general and enforcement in particular. 
According to the budget request made public this morning, this trend
continues.  For example, in the agency's budget for Science and
Technology, money for Clean and Safe Water drops from $113 million in
FY 04 to $95 million in FY 05.  Funding for Compliance and
Environmental Stewardship also drops, from $65 million in FY 04 to
$55 million in FY 05. The Administration has proposed phasing out the
Credible Deterrent programs. Regarding State and Tribal Assistant
Grants, more than $500 million is cut from the budget for Clean and
Safe Water, and money for Compliance and Environmental Stewardship is
cut by 20% from FY 04 to FY 05. It thus appears at this point that
the agency is allocated far too little resources for one of its most
important jobs, which is ensuring that the agency acts as a credible
deterrent for polluters and adequately enforces the law.

Great Lakes: 
While pending bills in the House and Senate would authorize $600 to
$800 million per year to restore the Great Lakes, the
Administration's budget contains $45 million for implementing the
Great Lakes Legacy Act (to clean up contaminated sediments at Areas
of Concern).  This represents an increase of $35 million; $3 million
for miscellaneous restoration; and $1 million for zebra mussel
research.  However, by cutting EPA’s budget for repairing sewer
overflows by  $500 million, some cities will not reduce combined
sewer overflows - a significant factor in the contamination of Great
Lakes beaches. 

Superfund: 
Bush’s budget, while proposing a slight increase of $124 million
above the FY 2004 budget for Superfund cleanup, largely abandons the
principle of “polluter pays” for the hazardous substance trust fund
by failing to reinstate the Superfund fees to pay for the program.

While Superfund would grow under the President's budget from $1.257
billion in FY 2004 to $1.38 billion in FY 2005, the entire
appropriation would be borne by general revenues, as Superfund's
trust fund was bankrupt as of the beginning of FY 2004, according to
the General Accounting Office.   Reinstating Superfund's polluter
pays fees would provide dedicated funding for the program. However,
the Bush administration has again failed to reinstate the “polluter
pays” fees, forcing taxpayers to foot the bill for the 30% of
Superfund cleanups where there is no responsible party and slowing
down toxic cleanups. A recent EPA Inspector General's report showed
that 29 Superfund cleanup projects were insufficiently funded in FY
2003.

Public Lands:  
Unfortunately, though the President’s budget does include some needed
increases for important programs, the budget fails to adequately
safeguard America’s public lands for future generations.  The
President has included language continuing the moratorium on oil and
gas exploration and drilling in the Outer Continental Shelf for the
Atlantic, Pacific and Florida coastlines.  However, the
administration fails to adequately fund important conservation and
restoration programs.  At the same time, the President is funding
harmful programs like his so-called Healthy Forests Initiative, which
increases logging under the guise of fighting forest fires. To make
matters even worse, the Forest Service budget lacks clarity and blurs
the line between funding for commercial timber production and funding
for non-commercial activities to restore or conserve our national
forests.  Finally, the President's budget once again assumes $1.2
billion in revenues in 2006 from drilling and leasing in the coastal
plain of the Arctic Refuge.  The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is a
pristine wilderness area that is, and should continue to be off
limits to any kind of drilling and development.

Endangered Species: 
The Endangered Species Act suffers from chronic funding shortfalls. 
The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service acknowledges that $153 million is
needed to list and protect a backlog of more than 200 declining
species, yet the Bush administration has requested only $17.2 million
for the listing of endangered species for FY 2005.  While this is an
increase over FY 2004’s appropriation of $12 million, the President
would need to fund the listing program at $30 million for the next
five years to reduce the growing backlog.  The ultimate goal of the
Endangered Species Act is to recover species to self-sustaining
levels.  Scientists estimate that an adequate recovery program would
require a minimum of $184 million.  The Bush administration’s FY05
request for recovery programs is $58 million, a $9.7 million decrease
from FY 2004 levels. 

ENERGY

Energy Efficiency and Clean Renewable Energy Sources: 
Despite the Bush Administration’s emphasis on energy security, this
year’s budget has significant cuts in programs that reduce America’s
dependence on oil and natural gas.  The Administration’s request cuts
both the core renewable energy and energy efficiency programs
compared to the appropriated levels in 2003.  Although renewable
energy programs appear level funded compared to the estimate for
2004, this comes from an increase in funding for the hydrogen budget,
which includes research for hydrogen derived from fossil fuel
sources.  In addition, the money appropriated for the Climate Change
Initiative can also be used for carbon sequestration projects that
benefit fossil fuel sources, further reducing the real amount of
money going toward clean renewable resources.  Clean renewable energy
programs such as solar and biomass have been cut by 3% and 18%,
respectively compared to 2004 appropriations.  This means the solar
budget has been cut by more than 10% over the past two years.  The
Administration has proposed increasing the Weatherization Assistance
Program, which saves money and energy through weatherizing low-income
homes.  However, since key energy efficiency programs for distributed
technologies and industries were reduced by 15% and 43%, the overall
energy efficiency budget is reduced by 3%, respectively compared to
2004 appropriations.  

Nuclear Power Research and Development:  
PIRGIM opposes taxpayer funding for existing and new nuclear plants,
which produce deadly waste with no safe disposal option. While the
President’s request decreases funding for nuclear research and
development by $11 million compared to FY2004 appropriations, it
substantially increases funding for the industry in other areas. For
example, the Administration requested $880 million, a $303 million
increase in funding, for the flawed Yucca mountain waste repository.
In addition, the President’s budget provides $31 million, a $7
million increase, for nuclear research and development to assist the
industry in developing new technologies. Finally, the Administration
proposes a $30 million increase in funding for the International
Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) that will squander billions
and still generate radioactive waste.

Fossil Energy Research and Development:  
PIRGIM supports the elimination of taxpayer subsidies to the coal,
oil and gas industries, which increase smog, soot and global warming
pollution. Despite the fact that oil and gas companies are among the
wealthiest corporations in the country, the President’s request
increases oil and gas research and development by $17 million. The
coal industry receives a substantial boost as the President’s budget
increases funding for the so-called “Clean Coal” Initiative by an
estimated $447 million. This includes a 60 percent increase for the
much-maligned Clean Coal Power Initiative, which has already received
more than $2 billion in taxpayer handouts.

EDUCATION

Pell Grants: 
In his State of the Union, President Bush highlighted his commitment
to the Pell Grant program and student aid. In that speech, President
Bush proposed increasing funding for the Pell program by $33 million.
However, that increase would represent only a 0.3 percent increase in
funding for the program, and would result in increased awards for
less than 1 percent of Pell Grant recipients. Pell Grants, which
assist more than 4 million needy students nationwide, have declined
in purchasing power over the past three decades. In the 1970s, the
maximum Pell Grant covered more than 80 percent of the costs at a
four-year public institution. Today, the maximum award of $4,050
covers less than 40 percent of those same costs. The State PIRGs’
Higher Education Project estimates that making college affordable
means increasing funding for student aid and increasing the maximum
Pell Grant to $4,500.

Low Income Aid: 
The President’s FY2005 budget also curtails the ability of low-income
students to qualify for student aid by eliminating the Perkins loan
program (which offers low-interest loans to low-income students) and
the Leveraging Educational Assistance Partnerships (LEAP) program,
which offer matching funds for states to provide need-based financial
aid to students.

Other Education Programs: 
The President’s FY2005 budget also limits student aid by freezing
funding for Federal Work-Study programs, graduate student
scholarships, and campus-based student aid programs.

SOCIAL JUSTICE
Homeless Assistance Grants: 
Each year 3.5 million Americans experience homelessness.  The
McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Programs serve a wide variety of
homeless Americans through programs that provide access to emergency
shelter, transitional and permanent housing, and support services for
homeless people.  The President’s FY2005 budget allocates
insufficient funding for the HUD McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance
Programs.  The recommended funding level of $1.332 billion, adjusted
for inflation, is only a 3.7% increase over FY2004; however, recent
reports show that the number of people experiencing homelessness is
increasing at a much faster rate.  The December 2003 survey by the
U.S. Conference of Mayors reports a 13% increase in requests for
emergency shelter over the past year; further, shelters reported
having to turn away 30% of requests for emergency shelter.  While the
President’s budget does indicate a need to work with local
communities to address homelessness, overall funding for the range of
homeless assistance programs falls short. For people experiencing
homelessness, funding shortfalls mean one too many nights sleeping on
the streets, in cars, or tripled and quadrupled up in cramped
apartments.

Housing Programs: 
The Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program, which provides the very
lowest income families with rental assistance, is a proven success in
helping families avoid homelessness and leave poverty. Right now, 2
million households - 92% of whom are families with children, senior
citizens, or disabled Americans - are able to afford safe, stable
housing because of Section 8. The President's 2005 budget funds
Section 8 at $18.5 billion—an $800 million cut from the previous
year—and proposes unnecessary changes that will result in fewer poor
families served by the program.  Last year there was bipartisan
opposition in Congress for a similar proposal    Funding levels
proposed in the budget will result in families being cut from the
program in 2005 if not increased by Congress.  

                             # # #

PIRGIM is a non-profit, non-partisan public interest advocacy group
working to preserve the environment, protect consumers and promote
democracy throughout Michigan.  More information is available at
www.pirgim.org. 




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