US EPA outlines Clinton Budget Plan

President Clinton's proposed Budget Plan for 2000 includes $7.2 billion for the US EPA plus a $9.5Bn five-year credit program to help communities restrict urban sprawl.

The President’s budget is intended to protect public health and the environment and to provide financial tools and other programmes to ensure healthy communities across the USA.

One of the main planks of the proposed budget is the Better America Bonds initiative, a financial tool intended to help communities address problems associated with urban sprawl: traffic congestion, lost farmland, threatened water quality, shrinking parkland and abandoned industrial sites, and brownfields.

The Budget proposes $700 million in tax credits over five years that will support $9.5 billion in bond authority for investments by state, local and tribal governments. The bonds will enable local communities to address their environmental needs.

“This budget continues into the 21st century the Clinton Administration’s commitment to protect public health and the environment,” said EPA Administrator Carol M. Browner on February 1 1999. “It is based on a simple truth that this administration has proven repeatedly over the last six years: environmental protection and economic growth can go hand in hand.”

Other new initiatives in the President’s proposal include:

  $200 million for a new Clean Air Partnership Fund – this fund will finance the creation of partnerships among local communities, states and tribes, the private sector and the federal government. These partnerships will finance locally managed, self-supporting clean air projects. The Fund will stimulate cost-effective pollution control strategies, stimulate technological innovation, and leverage non-federal investment in improved air quality.

  A campaign against asthma in children. The EPA is taking part in the US government’s effort to address childhood asthma. The Budget provides an additional $17.4 million, making a total of $22.2 million, to implement an inter-agency initiative for education, outreach and air monitoring. The Budget also provides an extra $12.3 million, making a total of $40.1 million, to focus on other severe illnesses, such as cancer and developmental disorders. The EPA’s investment to protect children from environmental threats totals $62.3 million.

Other environmental initiatives and on-going priorities:

  Implementing the Clean Water Action Plan. The Budget allocates $651 million to continue restoring US rivers, lakes and coastal waters, as well as its restoration of watersheds across the country.

  Flexibility in addressing water quality problems. The Budget includes a proposal that will allow states greater flexibility to address water quality problems – polluted runoff from city streets, suburban lawns and rural areas. For the first time, the proposal will give states the option of setting aside 20 percent of their FY 2000 Clean Water State Revolving Fund allotment for non-point source pollution projects, estuary management and other water quality projects.

  Financing water quality infrastructure. The Budget provides for $1.625 billion for the Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (SRF), programmes that provide financial assistance for the construction of drinking water and wastewater treatment facilities. The Budget will allow the EPA to meet and go beyond the commitment to its long-term capitalisation goal for the SRFs to provide an average of $2.5 billion in annual financial assistance.

  The Climate Change Technology Initiative. The Budget invests approximately $216 million at the EPA and $1.8 billion across government departments to help reduce greenhouse gases. This program will continue the setting up of partnerships with businesses, schools, states and local governments that voluntarily lower energy use. The Climate Change Technology Initiative also offers tax credits for consumers who purchase fuel- and energy-efficient cars, homes, appliances and other products. It also includes increased spending on research to develop cleaner technologies in areas like the Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles and the Partnership for Advancing Technology in Housing.

  Cleaning up waste sites and contaminated land. The Budget invests $1.5 billion in Superfund to continue cleanup of toxic waste sites. The EPA plans to complete clean up construction at 85 sites by the end of 2000, making a total of 755 construction completions. The Budget also invests approximately $92 million in the clean up and redevelopment of abandoned industrial sites through the EPA’s Brownfields Programme, including $35 million for the Brownfields Revolving Loan Fund which helps communities raise funds for the actual cleanup of brownfield sites.

  Improving public access to information. The Budget invests approximately $19.5 million, an increase of $13.5 million, in the Chemical-Right-to-Know program to improve public access and strengthen US citizen’s right-to-know about pollution in their communities. The Budget also provides $18 million for Environmental Monitoring for Public Access and Community Tracking (EMPACT) to provide the US public with access to real-time information about the health of the air, land and water in their communities.

  Scientific research. The Budget provides $681 million to develope the best available science for addressing environmental hazards, as well as new approaches toward improving environmental protection. The EPA will focus its research efforts on areas such as particulates, global warming, mercury and the Coastal Research Initiative.

  Improving air quality and reducing urban air pollution. The Air Toxics programme has been provided with almost $18 million in new funding, making a total of approximately $109 million, in addition to the Clean Air Partnership Fund. This programme will develop tools and data in order to allow the EPA to move the Air Toxics programme from a technology-based to a risk-based programme. The programme will be geared to reduce risks for poor and minority groups more prevalent in urban areas, and will bring increased protection to more sensitive sectors of the population, such as children and the elderly.

  Supporting US/Mexico Border environmental needs. The budget provides $100 million, a $50 million increase, for projects along the US/Mexico Border. With these resources the EPA will provide direct grant assistance to address the environmental and public health problems associated with untreated industrial and municipal sewage on the border.

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie