The federal government today released a proposed $8.344 billion budget for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for the fiscal year 2013. Florida environmental groups applauded the announcement, arguing the money would help ensure that job-creating restoration projects (like some underway in the Everglades) will not come to a halt.
The budget proposes $1.2 billion in categorical grants for states that are “on the front lines” in implementing environmental statutes like the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act. That includes nearly $66 million for State and Tribal Air Quality Management grants, nearly $27 million for Pollution Control grants, and about $29 million for the Tribal General Assistance Program. The proposal also provides $2 billion for Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Funds, which will finance over $6 billion in wastewater and drinking water infrastructure projects annually.
The proposal also includes $755 million in funding for the Superfund Cleanup program (which supports cleanup at hazardous waste sites), $576 million to support research and innovation, and a $10 million increase to the EPA’s National Vehicle and Fuel Emissions Laboratory for certification and compliance testing programs and to evaluate new biofuel technology.
The EPA has proposed $68 million, an increase of $11 million from the fiscal year 2012, for “[reducing] chemical risks, [increasing] the pace of chemical hazard assessments, and [providing] the public with greater access to toxic chemical information.”
According to a press release sent out today, the budget includes $50 million in savings “by eliminating several EPA programs that have either completed their goals or can be implemented through other federal or state efforts.”
Overall, the Obama administration’s proposals would trim the EPA’s budget by about 1.2 percent, likely reducing aid to many states.
But the budget received high praise from Florida environmentalists for its inclusion of $231.75 million in funding for Everglades restoration. The proposed funding builds upon recent federal commitments to protect and restore the Everglades, such as the recent establishment of the Everglades Headwaters National Wildlife Refuge and Conservation Area North of Lake Okeechobee.
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced last month that the government would list four species of invasive exotic snakes currently plaguing the Everglades as “injurious” species that cannot be imported or sold across state lines — another (partial) victory for environmentalists.
“We have progressed farther than any ecosystem restoration program in the nation. Our top priority is to make sure that the investment in the largest ongoing construction project in South Florida reaps benefits for wildlife and people,” said Julie Hill-Gabriel, Audubon of Florida’s director of Everglades policy, in a press release sent out shortly after the budget proposal was unveiled. “The funding proposed today would make sure that job-creating projects under construction do not come to a halt.”