Bush budget boosts brownfields but slashes sewage systems slush fund

The Bush administration budget proposals published this week, would cut the Environmental Protection Agency funding by roughly six per cent to US$7.57 billion.

The cuts are in line with the overall cuts to social spending in the budget, while public spending on military matters remains high.

The main loser in the EPA cut is clean water provision as revenue from a fund used to upgrade sewage and septic systems, and storm water run off projects, is being cut by 33% - US$361 million.

Despite this, President Bush is requesting US$210 million for the National Brownfields Program, an increase of US$46.9 million. This could be due to the number of jobs that the EPA says have been created through the program.

The EPA says more than 20,000 jobs have been created through brownfields grants while clean-ups in the past four years represent more than a 100% increase over the previous seven years.

The EPA budget details were announced at an event in St. Louis which was celebrating a regeneration project. Rodney Crim, executive director of the St. Louis Development Corp, said: "This project is another great example of brownfields clean up and redevelopment. It's also an illustration of the great partnerships we are creating across this nation to clean blighted areas and make them a central part of our revitalization effort."

The extra money will be used to clean up 60 properties, assess 1,000 properties, leverage an additional US$1 billion in clean up and redevelopment funding, create 5,000 jobs, and train 200 participants placing 65% of them in jobs related to the brownfields efforts.

Approximately US$28 million would be made available for removal of toxic waste sediments from the Great Lakes.

Full agreement on the budget proposals is likely to come later in the year after lengthy discussions in both houses.

By David Hopkins



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